Israel in the News Dec/Jan 1993/1994

‘Horizons for peace are open’

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin asserted last week that “the horizons for peace are open.”

In an address to coalition MKs at the Knesset, Rabin said: “A partial withdrawal from Gaza is preferable to a total withdrawal from the Golan Heights now and in the future. We face extraordinary opportunities.”

Rabin said that it is time to stop dwelling on the past and face the future. “We must understand the significance of the timing of the agreement, together with the wave of Khomeiniism in the Arab and Moslem world, including among the Palestinians,” he said … “The past no longer matters.”

Weizman appeals for calm

“I appeal to everyone to tone down the public debate … and not to say that following one course of action will lead to a holocaust, while following another will not,” President Ezer Weizman said, speaking of the “Gaza/Jericho First” plan. “We must find a joint approach to such a crucial matter.”

He noted that although there were violent arguments before peace was made with Egypt, a treaty was signed nonetheless.

“Life will be different in the Middle East. I am prepared to say, especially to those my age who remember how it used to be, that we have achieved more than we expected.”

Netanyahu calls peace plan PLO bridgehead for destroying state

The government has agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian “bridgehead” in Gaza and Jericho from which the PLO will try to destroy Israel, Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu charged during a special debate in the Knesset.

“When you hand over control of the ground, when you hand over control over movement … over everything that goes on inside—security, police—that means you have created a bridgehead,” he said. “You can act naive and deny it as much as you want.”

Netanyahu repeatedly stressed that the PLO’s aim is to destroy Israel. Yasser Arafat regards control of Jericho and Gaza as the first stage in this program, he charged. “You are much worse than [British prime minister Nevill] Chamberlain, because Chamberlain threatened the security and freedom of another nation, while you are threatening the security and freedom of your own,” Netanyahu told Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

IDF would protect Arafat

The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] would protect Yasser Arafat should he move to Jericho under the Palestinian self-rule plan, Labor Party Secretary-General Nissim Zvilli told French Radio. “He’s the only leader of the Palestinian people,” he said. “If Arafat feels the need to live in Jericho, I don’t see why we should oppose him.”

Most Israeli Jews, area’s Arabs support pact but want referendum

Sixty-two percent of Israeli Jews favor the “Gaza/Jericho first” plan, but a majority also favors holding a referendum or elections on the issue, according to a poll conducted by the Guttman Institute of Applied Social Research.

Another survey, conducted by the Center for Palestine Research and Studies, found that 64.9% of Palestinians in the territories support the plan, but that a large majority also favors holding a referendum.

Shahak: It’ll be harder to fight against terror

The Israeli-Palestinian agreement will make it harder for the security forces to fight Palestinian terrorists, Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj. Gen. Amnon Shahak told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“It will be extremely difficult to conduct preventive action against terrorism, and it will be extremely difficult to eradicate terrorism without preventive action,” a source who attended the meeting quoted Shahak as saying. Shahak said he did not know how the security forces would protect Israelis traveling on roads inside the autonomous Palestinian areas, or how they would continue to apprehend wanted Palestinian suspects.

He also warned that the security forces would not be able to continue their activities against wanted Palestinian suspects if they would have to coordinate their moves with the Palestinian police force.

Shahak continued: “We will have to sit down quickly and provide answers … On the face of it, the security problems appear complex.”

Israel and Jordan sign formal agenda for talks

Israel and Jordan took a significant step toward a peace treaty when they signed a formal agenda for negotiations at the State Department recently.

The document represents “a substantial framework to negotiate the vital issues,” said US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who presided over the signing.

The agenda lists as core issues security, territory, water rights, refugees and economic cooperation.

Israel, Morocco ties ‘soon’

Before returning home from Washington recently, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made a surprise detour to Morocco, where they met with King Hassan II in an attempt to hasten the establishment of diplomatic relations.

Israel Radio reported that an agreement was reached to establish diplomatic ties “soon.” It did not elaborate.

Foreign Ministry officials predicted recently that Morocco would be the second Arab country to recognize Israel after Egypt, and that it would do so following the signing of the Israeli-PLO declaration of principles.

Syrians move closer to accord

President Hafez Assad is sending a subtle but well-understood message to his people that Syria is rapidly approaching peace and diplomatic relations with Israel, government sources and Western diplomats say.

Syrian officials say they expect to reach formal agreement over a staged withdrawal from the entire Golan Heights within several weeks. The withdrawal could take several years, and be followed by normalized relations between Damascus and Jerusalem.

“There will be a peace agreement and withdrawal within two years,” said Brig. Gen. Abdullah Bazo, a senior police commander on the Golan Heights. “I am sure of that. But that means withdrawal from every inch of our land.”

British intelligence for PLO

Britain has agreed to help the PLO set up an intelligence apparatus and anti-terrorist force to counter violent opposition to the Israeli-PLO pact. The agreement was reached during secret talks involving British Foreign Office Minister Douglas Hogg, Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin and the PLO’s Nabil Sha’ath and Faisal Husseini.

Highways to link Arab capitalst local ports

Highways connecting Damascus, Amman and Beirut to Ashdod and Haifa are being planned to serve both Israel and its neighboring Arab states, Housing Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer told The Jerusalem Post last week.

The highways, dubbed “roads of peace,” will be financed either by international investments or jointly by the states through which they will pass, the minister said.

As reported in The Jerusalem Post in June—months before the “Gaza/Jericho first” plan was made known—the roads (which will serve as outlets for Arab merchandise) will turn Israel into the Hong Kong or Belgium of the Middle East within 15 years.

Routes for the motorways already exist, Ben-Eliezer said, “but until now the security forces used them in times of war. I call them the ‘war-roads.’”

(All articles are taken from The Jerusalem Post)

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