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March 03, 1989 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

NEWS

The Soviets

Continued from Page 1

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did not say to Arens during
their three-hour meeting at
the Soviet Embassy in Cairo
last week, the unmistakable
message he conveyed to the
Israelis and to other in-
terested parties is that
Moscow is ready, willing and
able to return to a central, ac-
tive role in Middle East
diplomacy.
While the public pro-
nouncements of Israeli
leaders in the days leading up
to the meeting had sought to
reduce the level of expecta-
tion, there was considerable
private speculation that
Shevardnadze would use the
occasion of this high-profile
showcase encounter to an-
nounce a resumption of
diplomatic relations with
Israel.
Disappointment that it did
not materialize was given ex-
pression by the mass-
circulation Hebrew-language
daily Hadashot, which noted
in an editorial that Israel had
already gone half way toward
accommodating Soviet de-
mands by accepting super-
power, as opposed to U.N.,
auspices for peace talks.
"The Soviets must now also
go half way," said the paper,
"and the first Soviet step
down this road must be the
renewal of diplomatic rela-
tions."
After the Cairo encounter,
which was described as "a
good, businesslike meeting,"
Israeli officials put a brave
face on whatever frustration
they may have felt.

According to Arens, the
talks helped to lay the foun-
dations for possible future
cooperation: "We have to find
ways," he said, "of presenting
our respective views, of
creating a basis for under-
standing, possibly a basis for
peace."
Shevardnadze, who declared
himself "satisfied" with the
"frank, open and honest
dialogue," noted that
"without goodwill on the part
of Israel, there can be no solu-
tion to this conflict."
That, however, was only one
aspect of the situation, he
said: "Another aspect is that
without the Soviet Union
there can be no peace process.
Therefore, continued dialogue
is important."
In
somewhat
less
diplomatic terms, the Soviet
Foreign Minister asserted
that Israel did not have "even
the semblance of a pretext"
for refusing to negotiate with
the PLO and bluntly warned
that continued rejection of a
role for the PLO might lead to
international sanctions.
"Israel could continue to
make a point of refusing to

talk to the Palestinians," he
said. "But then it has to face
the possibility that quite a
few countries in the world
will refuse to talk to Israel as
well."
While Arens restated
Israel's objections to the idea
of both an international peace
conference under UN
auspices and PLO participa-
tion in any future peace
negotiations, he emphasized
the importance of continuing
the dialogue with Moscow.
"I think we are laying the
foundations for an understan-

Washington is
hoping that the
combined
psychological
effect of Moscow's
tough line3 coupled
with its own arms-
length ptsture, will
inject a note of
chilly reality into
the debate and
contribute to a
softening of
Israel's hard-line
positions.

ding between our two coun-
tries," he said. "I know it is
important for Israel, I hope it
is important for the Soviet
Union and I think it is impor-
tant for the progress towards
peace in the Middle East."
Despite that expression of
cautious optimism, however,
there is little doubt that the
Israelis, while confident that
relations will be restored
sooner or later, were deeply
disappointed that they
returned empty-handed to
Jerusalem.
One clue to Moscow's foot-
dragging might be found in
the person of PLO leader
Yassir Arafat, who arrived at
the Soviet Embassy in Cairo,
a pistol strapped osten-
tatiously to his hip, for a
meeting with Shevardnadze
only hours after Arens had
left.
Israel was not, indeed, the
only subject on the mind of
the Soviet Foreign Minister;
another equally intractable
problem is the bitter personal
animosity between Moscow's
two key Middle East allies,
Syria's President Hafez Assad
and the PLO leader.
Indeed, the first priority for
the Soviet Union is to get its
own act together in the Mid-
dle East by engineering a rap-
prochement between its
clients, so that if and when
peace talks got underway, the
Arab side will at least be able

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