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June 09, 1995 - Image 8

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-06-09

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and the West Bank is a prereq-
uisite for long-lasting peace," he
Mr. Lis maintains that the
"most tangible way for the
Palestinians to feel that peace is
benefiting them is for economic
improvement to come about. They
need to see a real change in their
standard of living."
Israel receives $3 billion an-
nually in U.S. foreign aid, while
Egypt gets $2.1 billion.
Mr. Lis considers aid to Egypt
pivotal in preserving peace be-
tween the two Middle East na-
tions and sees a correlation with
the PLO.
"American foreign aid to Egypt
was definitely a catalyst to
Egyptian acceptance of the Camp
David Accords," he says. As for
MEPFA money: "We just have to
be careful on how the U.S. invests
and monitors it."
Dan Polisar serves as director
of the Jerusalem-based Peace
Watch, an independent Israeli
group monitoring all the parties'
compliance with the Middle East
peace accords. Mr. Polisar says
Israel's government favors the
U.S. aid, but Israeli citizens are
less optimistic.
"What interests people here is
not so much the question of how
much money the U.S. Congress
gives the PLO, but rather how the
United States, as a reasonably
fair judge, views PLO compliance
with the accords," Mr. Polisar
says. "I think regular Israelis wish
the State Department report were
true, that Arafat actually were as
committed to peace as the State
Department says he is."
Peace Watch's critique of the
State Department says that the
U.S. has made several mistakes
in its analysis of the PLO. For ex-
ample, Peace Watch refers to a
portion of the report commending
the PLO for punishing political
criminals through its legal sys-
tem. Mr. Polisar claims the court
proceedings did not try terrorists,
but rather political operatives,
journalists and preachers.
Another point of contention Mr.
Polisar has with the State
Department's report is its claim
that the PLO has extradited pris-
oners to Israel. That has not hap-
pened according to guidelines in
the DOP, he contends.
But government representa-
tives in the United States and
Israel's ruling Labor Party agree
with Mr. Lis. They believe the aid

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their standard of living, which will
lead, ultimately, to more peaceful
relations for everyone.
Israel's Foreign Minister
Shimon Peres reflected this sen-
timent in May, when he spoke to
866 metro Detroiters who trav-
eled on the Michigan Miracle
Mission. Addressing the crowd in
Jerusalem, Mr. Peres referred to
more than 1 million people in
Gaza as "desperate and starving."
"What the Palestinians need,"
he said "is support, not protest. It
would be foolish on our part to re-
main an island of prosperity in a
sea of poverty. The waves of
poverty will always endanger the
shores of prosperity."
Mr. Drissman and the Zionist
Organization of America's Ezekiel
Leikin don't buy it.

"It would be foolish
to remain an island
of prosperity in a sea
of poverty."

— Shimon Peres

"The Jews should help Jews
and the Arabs should help Arabs,"
Mr. Drissman says.
Says Mr. Leikin, "We firmly be-
lieve that Arab hostility to Israel
is not based on economic factors
in the territories. It's based on
Islamic fundamentalism and is
basically anti-Israel."
Supporters of the aid argue
that U.S. dollars will create a pos-
itive dependency among
Palestinians. Instead of relying
on their Arab neighbors, they will
switch allegiances to America.
Meanwhile, a U.S. public opin-
ion poll, conducted by Luntz
Research Companies, shows that
the majority of Americans — 78
percent — believes the PLO
should be held accountable for its
commitments to the peace accord
as a precondition for reautho-
rization of the measure.
According to the same survey,
78 percent of those polled also
agree that U.S. funds should be
halted until the PLO guarantees
that terrorist groups like Hamas
no longer operate from Gaza and
Jericho. Seventy-three percent
say the PLO should not receive
funds until it removes from its
charter statements calling for the
destruction of Israel. ❑

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