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September 10, 1993 - Image 20

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1993-09-10

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

News

L'Shana Tova Tikatevu

From.

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0

ver the past 11 years, the
poker face of Raanan
Gissin has popped up re-
peatedly on network
news shows hawking the Israeli
line — a tough and somber
point man for Israel's military
activities in the West Bank and
Gaza.
But during a visit to Balti-
more this week, the recently re-
tired spokesman for Israel
Defense Forces presented a very
different picture — smiling, an-
imated, almost giddy with
optimism about new develop-
ments between the Palestine
Liberation Organization and
the Jewish state.
`The main thing is to try and
make it work," said Mr. Gissin,
who met with Jewish National
Fund leaders this week to dis-
cuss water projects in Israel.
"We must test the willingness
of Palestinians for peace."
He said the future of a Pales-
tinian autonomous region de-
pends on three questions: Can
Palestinians govern themselves
while protecting their citizens
and neighbors? Can Arabs and
Jews coexist in the West Bank
and Gaza? And last, what kind
of security will be provided?
"If [peace efforts] fail, we'll
have to go to Israeli mothers
and say, We tried peace but we
must send your sons to war,' "
he said. On the other hand, "if
we do it right we will be enter-
ing a new period in the Middle
East."
Mr. Gissin, who served as a
special military adviser to
Mideast peace talks in Madrid
and Washington, said official
negotiations produced a start-
ing point for Arabs and Israelis.
But he said a true break-
through was only possible in an
informal setting, away from the
glare of the spotlight.
The loss of the Soviet Union
as a patron and depleted re-
sources from Gulf states meant
PLO Chairman Yassir Arafat
needed to reach an accord with
Israel, Mr. Gissin said. In ad-
dition, the threat of internal
Islamic fundamentalism has
encouraged Arab leaders to
want to break from the past
Israel-is-the-enemy mentality
and concentrate on building up
their countries.
Mr. Gissin said a joint se-
curity force between Palestin-
ians and Israel could deter
terrorism in the short term.
Despite threats by foes of the
peace accord, he does not envi-
sion constant attacks against
Israel from a Gaza-Jericho

autonomous region.
"The Palestinians will now
have something they can lose,"
he said. "They don't mind los-
ing Lebanon, but Gaza will be
theirs. Why would they want to
lose their own land? With
Arafat in the territories, it will
be easier to control terrorist ac-
tivity."
Mr. Gissin does not take
much stock in the threats by
Mr. Arafat and other Palestin-
ian leaders about eventually
claiming Jerusalem as the cap-
ital of a Palestinian state.
"Arafat says one thing in
public and does another. He
said he'd never settle for less
than a full homeland, and now
he has settled," he said.
By the same token, Mr.
Gissin predicted right-wing Is-

A true breakthrough
was only possible
in an informal
setting.

raelis and settlers will vehe-
mently oppose a settlement but
eventually will adhere to the
agreements.
The PLO-Israeli agreement
will encourage other Arab coun-
tries to normalize relations with
Israel, Mr. Gissin believes. He
feels once a number of Arab
countries strike deals with Is-
rael, Palestinian rejectionist
groups will be more likely to
curtail terrorist activities.
"We're not fighting this game
alone anymore. There are now
other groups that have an in-
terest," he said. "Even though
some countries are on the oth-
er side of the fence, they know
the United States calls the shots
and their survival hinges on
good economic ties with the
West. Iran is the one to watch,
but Iran is the problem of the
world."
Atttracting financial muscle
for a new Palestinian region
from the West and Arab states
is now imperative, Mr. Gissin
said. But he said support from
diaspora Jewry — which for
years has thrown the PLO in
the same category as the Nazis
— also is essential. "We're not
really giving up any territory.
This agreement is a test case,
not a peace treaty. The reason
we could work out this agree-
ment is that both sides decided
to put their mistrust to a test.
The battle for peace has moved
to a different arena."



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