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March 02, 1990 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-03-02

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

Women of Maimonides Medical Society
* *44TH ANNUAL DONOR DAY* *

presenting

Special Guest:
Designer OLEG CASSINI

Fashion Show by:
SAKS FIFTH AVENUE

Tuesday, March 27, 1990

SHERATON SOUTHFIELD

important than the symbols
he employed, because the
diminishing international
interest in the intifada and
the threat to Arafat's au-
thority in the occupied ter-
ritories are not the only fac-
tors driving the PLO to a
more belligerent stand.
Of equal concern is the
PLO's uncertain future rela-
tionship with the Soviet
Union and the Eastern bloc
of former Communist
nations, on which Arafat
once relied so heavily for
moral and military support.
It is now clear that if
Moscow reduces its in-
volvement in the region, as
it is likely to do, and allows a
mass emigration of Jews
without any reciprocity from
Jerusalem, the pressure on
Israel to come to terms with
the Palestinians will be
diminished and the peace
process itself will become
even more protracted.
Earlier this month, Gena-
day Terassov, a senior Soviet
official, was dispatched to
Tunis to assure PLO leaders
that Moscow would use all
its powers of persuasion to
convince the Israeli govern-
ment not to allow the
emigres to settle in the oc-
cupied territories.
The bottom line of his mes-
sage, however, failed to allay
PLO fears.
"We are prepared to freeze
or even reverse our growing
contacts with Israel,"
Terassov said, "but we will
not stop the emigration,
which is primarily due to
economic considerations."
In its anxiety to prevent a
further erosion, the PLO has
resorted to the old appeal for
pan-Arab solidarity. It was
no coincidence that Abu
Sharif linked "the Arab
nation" with "the Palestin-
ian people" in declaring that
Israel had committed an
"act of war" by settling
Soviet Jews in the occupied
territories.
The PLO might have rais-
ed the specter of a million
Soviet Jews settling in the
occupied territories for its
own reasons. But Israel
cannot ignore either the
potency of the appeal or the
very real possibility that the
immigration/settlement
issue could spill over into the
wider Arab arena.
Last weekend, represent-
atives of Iraq, Egypt and
North Yemen met in the
Jordanian capital to discuss
the situation, and some Arab

leaders are already describ-
ing the mass immigration of
Soviet Jews as the "Second
Catastrophe," ranking it
with the establishment of
Israel itself.
Israeli officials prefer to
believe that the Arab states
will not repeat past mistakes
and endanger their own
vital interests for the sake of
the Palestinians. But the of-
ficials also recognize the risk
that in the Middle East,
rhetoric can quickly override
rationality.
If the Palestinians are able
to convince the Arab states
that the superpowers are
once again solving their own
problems at the expense of
the Arabs and that this is
yet another blow to Arab
honor, Israel might have a
serious problem.
In calling for support from
his Arab brothers, however,
Arafat it appears may have
overreached himself and he
will have to overcome two
major obstacles if he is to
achieve concerted pan-Arab
action.
First, he will have to win
the confidence of Syrian
President Hafez Assad, who
has a deep and abiding
mistrust of the PLO leader.
Second, he will have to ap-
pease Egypt's President
Hosni Mubarak, who was
deeply wounded last week by
Arafat's deputy, Salah
Khalaf, better known by the
nom-de-guerre Abu Iyad.
Egypt is not only the prin-
cipal Arab backer of the
PLO, but Mubarak has been
personally involved in at-
tempting to further the
PLO's peace initiative.
Small wonder that the
Egyptian leader, anxious to
convince Washington that
he is an indispensable agent
in any Middle East peace
process, was displeased to
learn that his unrelenting
support of the PLO had been
rewarded with a fierce at-
tack by Abu Iyad, who
belittled Cairo's role in the
PLO's diplomatic efforts and
accused Egypt of interfering
in the PLO's internal affairs.
At the weekend, Palestin-
ian sources were predicting
that Arafat would visit
Cairo shortly. With all the
other problems currently
besetting the PLO leader, he
will no doubt place a high
priority on mending fences
with an important and in-
fluential ally in a world
where such allies are becom-
ing increasingly scarce. ❑

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

39

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