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October 25, 1991 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-10-25

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

The White House
Plan Is To Pray
For A Break

U.S. threats and
carrots — have pushed
the peace process
along. The hope is that
momentum will take
over from here.

JAMES D. BESSER

I

Washington Correspondent

n football, teams in desperate
straits sometimes resort to the
on-side kick, a short little kick
right into the opposition line.
The object is to shake up the game
and hope something positive devel-
ops from the ensuing commotion.
Secretary of State James Baker's
Middle East peace conference, the
product of many months of arduous
scrimmages, is a kind of diplomatic
on side kick.
Despite the elaborate format de-
veloped for the talks, the adminis-
tration's real intent is to bring the
hostile nations onto the playing
field together with a few baseline
rules — and then hope that the game
takes on some shape and momen-
tum.
But beyond that rough game plan,
questions remain about the admin-
istration's ultimate goals.
Many of Israel's leaders and some
pro-Israel activists in Washington
remain convinced that the upcom-
ing peace conference is just the first
step in a Bush administration plan
to force Israel back into the confines
of its pre-1967 borders.
Others suggest that Mr. Baker
and his foreign policy team have an
unrealistically optimistic view of the
Middle East, leading them to be-
lieve they can use America's new-
found international clout to press
hard for a settlement that will be
fair to both Israel and her Arab
neighbors.
Among Israel's American sup-

porters, the mood is one of wary op-
timism.
"We welcome this peace confer-
ence, we're hopeful — but we are
also very realistic," said Abraham
Foxman, executive director of the
Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith. "To a large extent, this is a
shotgun wedding."
While praising the extraordinary
White House effort that has
brought about the first face-to-face
negotiations between Israel and her
most implacable enemies, many
Jewish activists worry that the ad-
ministration is pushing too hard for
a formal agreement.
"Traditionally, one of the con-
cerns the Israelis have had is that
the Arab side has generally looked
for solutions that are short of [a full]
peace," said Jess Hordes, ADL's
Washington director.
"With the exception of Camp

cess is to create change in the Israeli
political system," said James
Zogby, head of the Arab-American
Institute. "The administration is
telling them that there are limits;
they're saying to Israel 'we're going
to work you into the network of our
relationships in the region, whether
you like it or not.' It's a subtle kind
of power play."
The initial structure of the peace
conference is an elaborate one,
which belies the fact that nobody in
the administration has a clear pic-
ture of how the antagonistic parties
will move beyond its ceremonial
opening phases.
William Quandt, a Middle East
analyst with the Brookings Institu-

tion in Washington, said that the
administration is looking for some-
thing he dubbed "magic momen-
tum."
"They hope that once people get
hooked, they will become moderate
and all of the things they haven't
been before," he said.
Just setting up the mechanism for
the peace process could provide the
framework for unexpected break-
throughs down the road, Mr.
Quandt argued.
"Basically, you get a mechanism
in place, and then hope for a lucky
break. We've seen that in
U.S.-Soviet relations, where we had
arms control negotiations going on
for years — and suddenly conditions

Bush and Baker are banking
on "magic momentum."

David, earlier agreements have fo-
cused on issues of belligerency, not
on peace. Israel wants assurances
that the object of this process is
normalized relations — real peace
treaties, not just an end of belliger-
ence."
The administration's view on that
question, he suggested, is not yet
clear. Some Jewish activists here
worry that the administration, anx-
ious for an agreement, may try to
force concessions from the Israelis
in the interests of a signed treaty —
the dreaded "land-for-paper" sce-
nario.
Some of Israel's friends in Con-
gress are privately arguing that the
administration is deliberately seek-
ing an out-and-out confrontation
with the Shamir government — a
pattern that was clearly revealed by
the administration's position on the
loan guarantee battle.
That view was echoed by a leading
Arab-American activist.
"Part of the purpose of this pro-

The tireless
efforts of
Secretary of
State Baker
have made
the peace
conference a
reality.

©1991 INTERNATIONAL COPYRIGHT BY CARTOONEWS INC., N.Y.C., USA

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

29

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