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June 19, 1992 - Image 29

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1992-06-19

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

Federal Fireplace

)

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9

H The Bush administration favors Rabin,
• but even if he wins, he
may not move swiftly.

ext week's elec-
tions in Israel
could be a wa-
tershed in the
troubled
U.S.-
,
Israeli relationship. But pro-Is-
rael activists here are trying to
dampen expectations that the
June 23 vote will spark a quick
turnaround in Israeli policy or an
- instant thaw in U.S.-Israeli re-
' lations.
Increasingly, Jewish activists
(Th
( , worry that no matter what hap-
pens when Israeli voters finally
--,go to the polls, the results might
not match the high expectations
of officials here.
The Bush administration has
made no secret of its preference
for a victory by Yitzhak Rabin's
• Labor party, or a Labor-led na-
tional unity government.
In recent weeks, there have
been clear hints that a Rabin win
could result in quick concessions
on the question of Israel's request
for $10 billion in loan guarantees.
But pro-Israel leaders here are
urging the administration to take
a pragmatic, unemotional view
. the upcoming vote. Israeli pol-
-) of
' itics rarely moves in straight
lines, they have warned.
According to sources here, the
administration is trying hard not
to publicly express what many of-
--) ficials here privately believe —
that a Rabin victory would lay
the groundwork for a major im-
provement in U.S.-Israeli rela-
tions and for a possible
, breakthrough in the slow-mov-
ing Middle East peace talks.
, - _
. A Shamir victory, most ob-
servers agree, would not neces-
sarily mean a continuation of the
long, dangerous slide in relations
between Washington and
Jerusalem.
"There have been many indi-
cations that the administration
wants the relationship to warm
up — regardless of who wins," said
Jess Hordes, Washington direc-

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But few argue with the notion
that this healing process will be
more difficult if Mr. Shamir is re-
turned to power. "The Ameri-
can government will continue to
want a workable relationship
with whatever Israeli govern-
ment is in power," noted Sam
Lewis, a former ambassador to
Israel during the Reagan ad-
ministration.
"But if Shamir is reelected, I

Hints have
surfaced that a
Rabin win may
mean quick
White House
concessions on
Israel's request
for $10 billion
in loan
guarantees.

doubt whether the Bush admin-
istration will be any more likely
to compromise on loan guaran-
tees than they are now."
The personal coolness between
Mr. Bush and Mr. Shamir, he
said, will continue to be a factor
if the Likud government is re-
turned to power.
A different set of problems
could arise if Yitzhak Rabin is
able to win enough support to
form a narrowly based Labor gov-
ernment — namely, high expec-
tations.
"To the extent that the ad-
ministration has counted on a
Rabin-led government, they may

be ascribing too high expectations
in terms of what such a govern-
ment could deliver," said David
Harris, executive vice president
of the American Jewish Com-
mittee.
A Labor victory would almost
certainly be a close one; forming
a government after the election
would likely be a long and ardu-
ous process.
Given those conditions, it is un-
likely that Mr. Rabin would be in
a position to take the kinds of
drastic actions that the Bush ad-
ministration would like to see —
including an immediate settle-
ments freeze.
A national unity government
led by Mr. Rabin, with substan-
tial Likud participation, is looked
upon in official Washington as
a plus.
Such a government would
have wide enough representation
to take the kinds of risks that the
peace process requires though it
would move slowly and could
take months just to form.
Not surprisingly, the political
factor looms large in this presi-
dential election year. Despite the
Bush administration's problems
with Israel, Republican officials
have not given up on the Jewish
vote.
"I don't want to sound cynical,
but the political realities have
opened up some doors for us,"
said one Jewish leader. "And the
political realities may serve to
moderate any administration re-
action against a victory by Likud.
If Shamir wins, I'd say it's
damned fortunate that we're in
the middle of a presidential cam-
Paign."
"Even if Shamir wins, I would
expect to see some thaw in rela-
tions," said Marvin Feuerwerger
of the Washington Institute for
Near-East Policy. "This is not
1991. George Bush will need ev-
ery constituency he can win to his
side, including the Jews." ci

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

29

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