The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 8, 2001-- 5A
Bush administration to take new
direction with Middle East policy
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration
intends to take Arab-Israeli diplomacy in a new
direction, linking the intractable dispute over the
Palestinians' future to other U.S. interests in the Per-
Even familiar terminology is being cast aside. In a
move approved by Secretary of State Colin Powell,
the phrase "peace process" is being jettisoned in
favor of specific references.
"There is no official term to describe our efforts to
achieve Middle East peace," a State Department
internal memorandum says.
The new direction shifts away from detailed and
constant U.S. mediation, often involving the Presi-
dent, and away also from what Powell has suggested
was undue concentration on one of a multitude of
U.S. foreign policy problems.
"I am of a view you can't just concentrate on one
thing. There are just many things going on at the
same time," Powell said last week.
Asked about his priorities, Powell said: "I think, of
course, we have to look at the Gulf and especially
Iraq. Those things come to mind."
Only two presidents immersed themselves in
the devilish details of peacemaking: Jimmy
Carter, in forging the 1979 peace treaty between
Israel and Egypt, and Bill Clinton, in mediating
the 1998 Wye Accords that called for Israeli
withdrawals on the West Bank, and last year's
futile drive for peace between Israel and the
Other presidents relied on their secretaries of state,
special mediators, the Near East bureau of the State
Department and American ambassadors.
The United States "will give the Sharon government a
chance to do what he said he was going to do."
- President Bush
Israel's Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon reads from a prayer book
yesterday during his visit to the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest site in
'East Jerusalem's old city..
Three presidents, Gerald Ford, George Bush and
Ronald Reagan, never visited Israel. Bush, however,
launched through his Secretary of State James P.
Baker III the semiautonomous "peace team" headed
by Dennis Ross that gave high-profile attention to
the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Ross has ended his 12-year run, and the State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said
Wednesday there was no decision on whether to
Clinton made peace in the Middle East his highest
foreign policy priority. If Ross' post is not filled, it
could be a clue that a settlement between Israel and
the Arabs no longer is being accorded the pride of
Bush yesterday pledged to work with Israel's
newly elected prime minister, Ariel Sharon, to pro-
mote peace in the Middle East. "We're going to play
the hand we've been dealt," he said, "and we're going
to play it well."
The United States will "give the Sharon govern-
ment a chance to do what he said he was going to
do," Bush said.
Powell used telephone diplomacy, like his prede-
cessor, Madeleine Albright, talking to Sharon on
Tuesday and King Abdullah II of Jordan, Crown
Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister
Amr Moussa of Egypt and Foreign Minister Farouk
al-Sharaa of Syria.
"The message is basically ... that we're at a deli-
cate time, that the prime minister-elect will need to
form a government, and that during this period we
should avoid provocations, we should avoid counter-
provocations, everyone should be exercising restraint
and moderation," Boucher said.
The spokesman said that "we need to work
together and talk to our friends and allies in the
region and talk to the new government once it's
formed about how we can proceed toward the
search for peace."
In giving the Arab-Israeli dispute a broader frame-
work, the Bush administration will make the pitch
that everyone in the region would benefit from a set-
tlement, that peace would contribute to stability.
Saudi Arabia and other oil producers prize
stability as essential to their economic well-
What the administration is bound to seek from the
other leaders is support for sanctions on Iraq to con-
tain President Saddam Hussein's military programs
and coaching the Palestinians to compromise with
Los Angeles Times
JERUSALEM - Moving quickly
to reinvent himself to the world as a
statesman capable of pursuing peace,
Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel
Sharon said yesterday that he is dis-
patching a team of senior advisers to
Washington to explain his foreign
policy to the Bush administration,
congressional leaders and the U.S.
But even as Sharon welcomed
what an aide called a "warm" mes-
sage of congratulations from Palestin-
ian Authority President Yasser Arafat,
the former general also paid a visit to
Jerusalem's Western Wall, where he
promised that the city will remain the
capital of the Jewish people "for all
Sharon's visit to the sacred spot
sent a strong message that he will be
unwilling to entertain the sort of
compromises that Ehud Barak, the
-man he defeated in a landslide Tues-
day, offered the Palestinians. Barak
had proposed sharing sovereignty
over Jerusalem, which both Israel
and the Palestinians claim as their
Critics say Sharon's Sept. 28 visit
to the Temple Mount, a site holy to
Muslims and Jews that abuts the
a Western Wall, triggered the violence
-that derailed Israeli-Palestinian peace
efforts. Muslims looked at the visit as
a ham-fisted assertion of Israeli sover-
eignty over the site.
Sharon's day began with a visit to
the grave of his wife, Lili, who died
of cancer in March. He then
plunged into the daunting task of
forming a coalition government and
reassuring Israelis and the interna-
tional community that his crushing
defeat of Barak will not spell the
end of the peace process or drive the
region to war.
"He wants to reassure everyone
that he didn't win this election by a
landslide to make war, he won it by a
landslide to make peace," said
Ranaan Gissin, a Sharon spokesman..
Sharon named a team to negotiate
with potential coalition partners and
renewed his call for Barak's center-
left Labor Party to join him in build-
ing a broad-based government.
He was said to be willing to offer
the job of foreign minister to Shimon
Peres, the Israeli statesman most
closely identified with Israeli-Pales-
tinian peacemaking efforts.
"The prime minister-elect will
invite to a national unity government
every Zionist party that is willing to
participate in a government that will
be serious, responsible and strive for
peace," Eyal Arad, Sharon's strategic
adviser, said at a Jerusalem news con-
Sharon's win leads
many to speculation
Los Angeles Times
BEIT JALA, West Bank - Out of
work since the Palestinian intifada
erupted four months ago, the men at
Beit Jala's main coffee shop played
cards yesterday and wondered how
much worse things can get under Israeli
Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon.
"Who is more dangerous, Sharon or
Barak?" mused Hussein Farag. It was
lame-duck Prime Minister Ehud
Barak, he said, who started "a war"
against the Palestinians. Will Sharon
be the one to finish it?
"Sharon is a murderer," said Farag's
friend Samir Mitri, a tour guide. "But
Throughout the Palestinian-ruled
West Bank and Gaza Strip, and else-
where in the Arab world, Sharon's
landslide election and resounding
defeat of Barak on Tuesday prompted
a gamut of emotions among leaders
and ordinary people alike: horror,
indifference, defiance, concern.
Even though Barak offered unprece-
dented concessions to the Palestinians,
few were mourning him. Many Arabs
have come to blame Barak for the vio-
lence that has claimed about 320 Pales-
tinian lives in the past four months. But
Sharon inspires dread in many.
Syrian newspapers said Sharon's
victory was a declaration of war. Jor-
danian officials displayed a wait-and-
see attitude, a cautious approach
echoed yesterday by Egyptian Presi-
dent Hosni Mubarak.
Syrians at a newspaper stand yesterday in Damascus read the results of the
Israeli elections with the victory of right-wing leader Ariel Sharon.
idt's Green Rd.
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