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May 31, 1991 - Image 30

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-05-31

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

ANALYSIS

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Secretary Baker: Putting the onus on Israel.

Baker's Outburst: Just
The Tip Of The Iceberg?

JAMES D. BESSER

Washington Correspondent

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S

ecretary of State

James Baker's out-
burst against Israel
this past week in Congress
was not an effort to "jump
start" negotiations, as por-
trayed in some news ac-
counts. It was an expression
of anger and frustration, and
will only serve to deepen the
mistrust between Israel and
the U.S. regarding peace
talks, according to Washing-
ton insiders.
How, they ask, can Mr.
Baker assume the role of
honest broker when he ap-
pears to be biased against
Israel?
Speaking before the House
appropriations committee on
foreign operations, Mr.
Baker, in cool, clipped tones,
charged that Israel's recent
expansion of settlements
was "the single biggest
obstacle" to his peace efforts.
With the Secretary of
State putting the blame for
his stalled talks on Israel,
and the Jewish state refus-
ing to see its recent set-
tlement activities as a public
relations disaster and a dip-
lomatic poke in the eye to
Mr. Baker, the two countries
are acting more like oppo-
nents than allies on this
issue.
Pro-Israel activists argued
that Mr. Baker's emphasis
on the settlements question
represented a fundamental
imbalance in the secretary's
approach to the region. Arab

intransigence on a number
of issues, not to mention
Syria's virtual annexation of
Lebanon by treaty last week,
were at least as provocative
as Israel's expansion of Jew-
ish settlements, they
argued.
In Senate hearings the
next day, Mr. Baker was
greeted with a barrage of
angry questions from a
group of pro-Israel senators,
including Sen. Alfonse
D'Amato, R-N.Y., and Sen.
Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
They wanted to know if
Israel's settlement activity
was more of an obstacle to
peace than Syria's purchase
of Scud missiles from North
Korea, more than the Arab
refusal to end their state of
war with Israel, more than
Saudi Arabia and Kuwait's
refusal to institute any
forms of democracy.
There was active talk of
congressional "dear col-
league" letters and resolu-
tions condemning the Baker
statements.
But all that activity belied
some deep ambivalence run-
ning through the pro-Israel
community in Washington.
Before last week's
fireworks, many of Israel's
friends here were privately
expressing their distress
over Israel's settlements pol-
icies. Some of Israel's friends
in Congress had weighed in
quietly with Israeli officials;
there was special concern
about Housing Minister
Ariel Sharon's activities and
what some members of Con-
gress see as Mr. Sharon's

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