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August 02, 1991 - Image 39

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-08-02

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

BACKGROUND

HELEN DAVIS

Foreign Correspondent

I

sraeli leaders were this
week engaged in an exer-
cise of diplomatic
brinkmanship as the Middle
East peace process
dominated the agenda of the
Bush-Gorbachev summit in
Moscow.
Amid reports that Secre-
tary of State James Baker
would return to Israel after
the summit in a further at-
tempt to break the pro-
cedural impasse, there were
suggestions that Presidents
Bush and Gorbachev would
simply ignore Jerusalem's
reservations and hand out
invitations to a regional
peace conference.
Washington is disap-
pointed that Israel failed to
respond to its peace pro-
posals before Mr. Bush left
for Moscow, but Israeli
Prime Minister Yitzhak
Shamir remained adamant
that agreement on Palestin-
ian participation must be
reached before Israel could
approve the plan.
Israel is refusing to
negotiate with known offi-
cials of the Palestine Libera-
tion Organization, with Pa-
lestinian residents of East
Jerusalem and with Palesti-
nians who have previously
been deported from - the oc-
cupied territories.
In Jerusalem, Israeli offi-
cials appeared to be upping
the ante by ruling out any
possibility of relinquishing
the Golan Heights, which
Israel captured from Syria in
the Six Day War of 1967.
The return of the strate-
gically important mountain
range, which commands a
view over most of northern
Israel, is the single most im-
portant objective of Syrian
President Hafez al-Assad,
who agreed to accept vir-
tually all of Israel's terms
for talks.
Underscoring Israel's
claim to the Golan Heights,
Housing Minister Ariel Sha-
ron has approved the con-
struction of 380 new homes
for Israeli settlers.

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Artwork from Newsday by Bernie Cootner. CopyrightC 1991, Newsday. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate.

On The Brink

As Israel moved closer to the peace tab/4
the government sought to up the ante

This will increase by 10
percent the existing popula-
tion of 12,000 Jewish set-
tlers who live in 30 set-
tlements on the Golan
Heights and is consistent
with Israel's stated policy of
doubling the number of Jew-
ish settlers within two years.
Israel's resolute rejection
of any territorial conces-
sions, coupled with Mr. Sha-
ron's weekend announce-
ment, appeared deliberately
designed to raise hackles in
Damascus.

It was also intended to
poke a finger in the eye of
Washington, which has re-

Israel has
succeeded in
creating divisions
within Palestinian
ranks.

portedly assured Mr. Assad
that the substance of the
negotiations would deal with
Israel's withdrawal from the
occupied territories.

Israeli Defense Minister
Moshe Arens told a U.S.
television interviewer Sun-
day that Israel had agreed in
principle to attend a Middle
East peace conference and
that its acceptance was
"merely a formality."
Just hours earlier,
however, he told an Israeli
audience it was vital to re-
tain control of the Golan
Heights, recalling Israel's
vulnerability before the Six
Day War when its exposed
agricultural settlements in

the fertile Galilee plains
were shelled at will by
Syrian artillery: "We had to
put an end to that," he said,
"and we have put an end to
that forever."
Deputy Foreign Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu rein-
forced the message when he
said secure borders would be
impossible if Syrian troops
were again deployed on the
Golan Heights.
Despite the tough talk, it
is widely expected that
Israeli leaders will eventual-
ly give their formal assent to
direct negotiations with
Syria — not only because
they want to, but because
they believe they have to.
Israel will never again be
offered such favorable terms
for talks with Syria. More-
over, it will have almost no
chance of winning the $10
billion loan guarantee it is
seeking from Washington to
absorb the hundreds of
thousands of new immi-
grants who are arriving
from the Soviet Union.
According to a former
senior U.S. diplomat, the
White House has already
implied it may not be able to
comply with Israel's aid re-
quest —and, he added, Israel
no longer feels confident
that it can rely on the
automatic support of Con-
gress to override a presiden-
tial veto on assistance for
the Jewish state.
The Israelis are anxious to
avoid the impression that
they are holding up the
peace process and they have
repeatedly expressed their
willingness to enter negotia-
tions with Syria, which rep-
resents the single greatest
military threat to Israel's
security.
However, they appear to
be determined to block
negotiations with the Pales-
tinians, a process which will
focus attention on the ques-
tion of the West Bank, a
piece of real estate which the
Likud government of Mr.
Shamir regards as non-
negotiable.
While Israel is playing a
tactical cat-and-mouse game

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

39

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