News

November 4, 1999



MIDDLE EAST: OSLO SUMMIT LAUNCHES 'FINAL STATUS' ON LAND, PEACE, SECURITY





Middle East watchers assessing the impact of the Nov. 1-2 three-way "mini-summit" between President Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Barak and Palestinian leader Arafat in Oslo applauded the meeting as "provocative" and "fertile ground" for a lasting, comprehensive peace. Most determined that the confab had served notice that the time of "footdragging is over" and had essentially achieved its goal of being "the springboard needed for the final chapter in peace-making in the Middle East." But as the focus shifts next week from the "spirit" of Oslo back to the Middle East where teams of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will begin tackling the difficult issues of Jerusalem, borders, security and settlements, commentators were less sanguine about the prospects for an overall peace. A conservative Israeli pundit, writing in popular, pluralist Maariv, contended that "President Clinton is daydreaming if he thinks he can make the parties make a deal," since neither side is "capable of taking the 'hard decisions.'" These were regional themes:



ISRAEL, ARAB WORLD: In top-story coverage of the summit in the Israeli and Palestinian media, commentators praised the U.S., saying that its presence has been crucial in striking the right "balance" needed for negotiations. The West Bank's semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida declared, "The American president has again confirmed that American involvement is essential in order to bridge the gaps and exert the required pressure on the Israeli government." Tel Aviv's ultra-orthodox Hamodia similarly judged, "Israelis and Palestinians alike learned again that nothing constructive may be achieved without the Americans." There were some detractors, however. Throughout the Arab world, papers remained skeptical about the summit and perceived U.S. "bias" toward Israel in the peace process in general. Amman's leading, semi-official Al-Rai contended: "The Oslo summit was no more than another peace festival without peace," adding, "All Israel has achieved is to unleash the stout American stick, to beat the Arabs into normalizing relations with Israel." An Israeli paper judged that proposals put forth in Oslo "failed to link diplomatic solutions to an irrevocable, total and definitive halt in terror attacks" against Israel.



EUROPE, ASIA: Most observers throughout Europe and in Asia held that the Oslo meeting had provided new impetus for talks that had been virtually "standing still" under former Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Expressing a common view, Rome's left-leaning, influential La Repubblica stressed: "No one expected miracles in Oslo. However, the summit has been useful in...confirming the common will to 'finish the job.'" Dailies in France, Italy and Ireland underscored the "master role" of the U.S. in making sure that final status negotiations "take off on the right foot." A reformist paper in Moscow, however, saw an essential place for Russia, saying: "The Palestinians are a hard nut to crack, especially for the Americans, with their brash ways. It is essential that Russia should keep the Middle East as a foreign policy priority."



WESTERN HEMISPHERE: Writers in Latin America saluted the Oslo summiteers for creating "an opportunity...demonstrably real" for peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors.



EDITOR: Gail Hamer Burke





EDITORS' NOTE: This survey is based on 40 reports from 21 countries, November 1-3. Editorial excerpts are grouped by region; editorials from each country are listed from the most recent date.



MIDDLE EAST



ISRAEL: "Palestinians Must Prove Good Faith"



Ultra-orthodox Hamodia emphasized (11/4): "The word from Oslo is that President Clinton tried to get the Israelis and Palestinians to agree to an arrangement under which the Palestinian Authority (PA) would get an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza, while Israel would keep the land occupied by Jewish communities.... Regardless of the merits of this proposal, its most serious drawback is that it fails to link diplomatic solutions to an irrevocable, total and definitive halt in terror attacks.... There is no point in making an agreement with the PA, as long as other Palestinian groups may not abide by it. It is useless and even dangerous to accommodate the Palestinians while armed radical bands vow to continue the anti-Israel struggle.... A precondition to any diplomatic progress must be a solemn commitment tested over a long period of time to stop terror attacks."



"Finish The Job"



The independent Jerusalem Post's editorial held (11/4): "The meeting in Oslo was an opportunity to introduce formulas that combine toughness and flexibility, or at least to stop digging in deeper around old inflexible stands. Barak took that opportunity by suggesting that Israel has divided its priorities into three tiers of differing flexibility. Arafat, despite his appreciated displays of respect for Yitzhak Rabin, showed no hint of preparations to compromise.... It would be a mistake to succumb to the Palestinian wish to leave as much as possible for a three-way summit at Camp David in the hope that U.S. pressure could be brought to bear on Israel. The United States should do its utmost to avoid such a dynamic, which also increases the likelihood of a last-minute crisis in the negotiations."



"Oslo: Good, Though Not Exciting News"



Ultra-orthodox Hamodia wrote in a front page commentary (11/3): "President Clinton left Oslo with deeper understanding of the Israeli positions, aspirations and concerns.... All participants are going home with the clear perception that footdragging is over and that the time has come to come to grips with the tough issues.... Israelis and Palestinians alike learned again that nothing constructive may be achieved without the Americans.... How long will it take for the parties to make peace? Oslo told us that it is not time that is needed, but courageous leaders who can take us there."



"Clinton's Fantasies"



Conservative pundit Yosef Harif held in popular, pluralist Maariv (11/3): "President Clinton is daydreaming if he thinks he can make the parties make a deal.... Neither Israel nor the Palestinians are capable of taking the 'hard decisions' Clinton is referring to.... Jerusalem, the territories, right of return, etc. are momentous barriers.... Arafat is not likely to be able to accept Prime Minister Barak's moderate proposals and that is why an early agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, even before Bill Clinton leaves the White House, is not in the cards."



WEST BANK: "U.S. Role Essential"



Colonel Mohammed Masri opined in semi-official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (11/3): "President Bill Clinton has repeatedly intervened to revive the peace process, especially when the process



was on the verge of collapsing during the government of...Prime Minister Netanyahu. Through his great efforts, Clinton managed to achieve the Wye River agreement, which is about to be fully implemented. Also, the American president has again confirmed that American involvement is essential in order to bridge the gaps and exert the required pressure on the Israeli government. So this role forms the basis for the essential balance needed for the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Barak, may have tried to get rid of this American role, but such an effort by Barak will not serve the interest of the Israelis or the Palestinians. Distancing the American role will eventually lead the negotiations to a crisis, which both sides, the Palestinian and the Israeli, are incapable of dealing with by themselves."



JORDAN: "Israel's Difficult Choice"



Tariq Masarwah had this to say in leading, semi-official Al-Rai (11/4): "The Oslo summit was no more than another peace festival without peace. Its objective was to market Ehud Barak and to release the financial deal...that resulted from the Sharm El-Sheikh agreement. Israel wants a Palestinian entity much less than a state, while avoiding deterioration to a situation similar to Kosovo, and without returning to the Jordanian option or to the state of apartheid. To achieve this, Israel will have to make some hard choices, particularly since the Palestinians have proven to be resilient negotiators, despite all accusations to the contrary. Meanwhile, all Israel has achieved is to unleash the stout American stick, to beat the Arabs into normalizing relations with Israel."



"The Tripartite Oslo Summit"



Mazen Al-Saket observed in center-left, influential Al-Dustour (11/4): "The Oslo summit was concluded without announcing any results except the obituary of former Prime Minister Rabin. The U.S. president has tried to dilute this failure by talking about other summits to be held soon, but the failure to achieve any progress asserts that the entire peace process is at a dead end. Clinton would like to conclude his term in office with a final settlement, but he is handicapped by his total bias toward Israel.... The issues that were faced by this summit are the same that will face any future talks or summits, and they threaten to take the region into a state of 'no settlement and no peace' that lasts for decades."



"Engagement Is The Name Of The Game"



The influential among-the-elite, English-language Jordan Times had this lead editorial (11/3): "The Oslo summit...could very well turn out to be the springboard needed for the final chapter in peace-making in the Middle East. The symbolism of Oslo as the site that gave birth to the initial Oslo accords could not have escaped the attention of participants at the Oslo summit of 1999. The Oslo spirit is one of reconciliation not separation, as Barak seems to think. Peace is not about land, but about people; and for Palestinians and Israelis to make peace, a state of perpetual engagement must continue. It is through engagement that they started to make peace, and only through it that peace could progress and endure."



"Also In Memory Of Rabin"



Bassem Sakejha commented in center-left, influential Al-Dustour (11/3): "The departed Israeli prime minister was not a victim of the Arab-Israeli struggle. The bullet that killed him was Jewish and it expressed a struggle with Israel. Listening to the words of Clinton, Lea Rabin, Barak and Arafat, we discover the lie that we have lived the past six years. All that is left of peace is the celebration of one man who was assassinated. All that is left of the promises of prosperity are $100 million, which Clinton promises to deliver to us if he succeeds in pressuring Congress in letting him do so. Yet, no one asked why peace has not been achieved. One year from now, we shall mark the new anniversary of the assassination of Rabin, but we shall not be celebrating peace."



LEBANON: "A Summit In Oslo With Long Discussions"



An usigned front-page comment in pro-Syrian Ad-Diyar held (11/3): "For the sixth time, an agreement over an agreement is discussed.... Between agreements there are all kinds of contacts for implementation. We are only pointing out that when there is no unity, when a country walks alone on its track, it is only doing a service to the Israelis. We can never forget what Assad said when the Oslo agreement was signed--that each article in that agreement needs another agreement."



"What Kind Of Peace Does U.S. Want?"



Pro-Syrian, pro-Baath Party Ash-Sharq featured this comment by Awni Al-Kaki on page one (11/3): "The Oslo summit is only a pressure tool against the Palestinians to make them present more concessions.... What kind of peace does the United States want? How can we believe in the United States' peaceful intentions when it continues to support Israel's military superiority, turns a blind eye on Israel's escalation of the situation in the south, and when the Israelis appoint the former head of their intelligence apparatus, known for his radicalism, as the head of the negotiating team on the Syrian track?"



"The Palestinian Outpost For The Great Israel Entity"



Talal Salman declared on the front page of Arab nationalist As-Safir (11/3): "Between Balfour's promise and Clinton's promise there is a Palestinian national march towards total destruction.... This funeral in Oslo will lead to a Palestinian mini-state which will serve as a guard post for the great Israeli entity."



QATAR: "The Process Of Surrender"



Mazin Hammad judged in semi-independent Al-Watan (11/3): "Yesterday's Oslo ceremony was provocative. Rabin's memory can be immortalized by his people, as he offered them a lot by breaking the bones of their opponents, making them recognize Israel as the only inheritor of the Palestine of the (British) mandate. So why are we celebrating our death!? It is sad that our TV channels went to Oslo to provide live coverage, hence taking part in hurting our feelings. They are also helping institute the idea of an annual ceremony in memory of Rabin as a hero of peace. Well, we're sorry. We have not been affected and we did not empathize. Rabin is not a hero of peace, nor is there anything called a peace process. But there is a process of surrender."



SAUDI ARABIA: "Revitalized Process"



London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat judged (11/3): "President Clinton and other American officials are still treating Ehud Barak's victory over Benjamin Netanyahu as a major accomplishment for the cause of peace in the Middle East. No one, it seems, is willing or has the desire to acknowledge that while Barak may have ambitions for peace, great ideas and good peaceful intentions, his negotiation tools are no less racist and inferior than those of the Likud.... When the Israeli government--regardless of who its leader is--acknowledges that settlements are not sacred lands and their existence must not control the peace settlement, either from a geographical--or especially--from a security point of view...when the Israeli government acknowledges that Jerusalem has special religious and cultural dimensions which do not belong to Jews alone...when the Israeli government acknowledges that security is for all, not for one party alone...then it will be correct to assert that normalization (with Israel) can serve the cause of peace."









SYRIA: "Arrogance: A New Auction Of Arrogance"



Turki Saqr, chief editor of government-owned Al-Bath, opined (11/4): "As a result of the Oslo summit Barak has become more intransigent; he publicly announced his rejection of international resolutions pertaining to the occupied territories, and the issues of Jerusalem and settlements. His Foreign Minister Levy also entered the new auction of arrogance. Likewise, the Israeli ambassador to Washington said that it is difficult to notice any sign of moderation in Syria's stands; he claimed that the window of opportunity will not be open for a long time in the region. Such implied threats do not intimidate Syria, which has offered everything it could to make the peace process a success. If the current chance of peace is wasted, only the Israeli government is to blame. The U.S. administration realizes that Syria and the Arabs are more sincere in their peace efforts than Israel. Any failure of the U.S. initiative means a failure of the U.S. policy in the region."



"A Time-Wasting Meeting"



Majed Mouwwad told readers of government-owned Al-Thawra (11/4): "The Oslo summit was convened within the context of a time-wasting game which Israel is playing in the lead-up to the American presidential elections.... The situation in the Oslo summit was like a dialogue among the deaf. While President Clinton was encouraging the concerned parties to achieve peace and to make use of the current chance for peace, Barak was reiterating his rejection of the international resolutions, saying that he is only governed by the Israeli law."



"The Danger Of The Current Situation"



Muhamed Ali Buza commented in government-owned Al-Thawra (11/3): "The recent U.S. statements on peace oscillated between optimism and pessimism.... On the eve of the Oslo meeting, President Clinton's rhetoric was less optimistic and more realistic as he described the chance of peace as 'fragile.' This pessimistic tone comes at a time when the world community is expecting a more active [U.S. role]; it is a dangerous sign.... It is unacceptable for the U.S. administration to unleash general statements as if it is a marginal participant and not the initiator of a peace plan; as if its bias toward Israel is not prohibiting it from correcting the course of the peace process.... We realize that it is useless to bet on any change in the United States' performance on the peace process... but we still have our own choices and have our means to retrieve our lands and rights."



EUROPE



RUSSIA: "Palestinians Too Tough For Americans"



Yelena Ovcharenko insisted in reformist youth-oriented Komsomolskaya Pravda (11/3): "There is no cause for Russia to worry much over the United States' edging it out of the Middle East peace process. The Palestinians are a hard nut to crack, especially for the Americans, with their brash ways. It is essential that Russia should keep the Middle East as a foreign policy priority."



NORWAY: "The Refugees Are Offered For Peace"



Social Democratic Dagsavisen told its readers (11/3): "The parties in the peace process did find their way back to the good atmosphere of 1993 during the hectic two days and nights that the summit lasted in Norway. The confidence between the parties is back again.... In Oslo, negotiations were agreed to, as well as a type of framework for when and how these negotiations shall be carried out. But there was not a breakthrough when it comes to the content of the negotiations. This was not expected either."





"A Political Visit On Many Levels"



Independent Dagens Naeringsliv asked (11/3): "Does it have any significance that the negotiations took place here in Oslo? Does a certain Oslo spirit exist? Do Norwegian politicians and government officials create good atmosphere for negotiations?... In that context it is useful to remind that the American president's vacation place Camp David again is mentioned as a possible place for further negotiations."



FRANCE: "The New Oslo"



Left-of-center Le Monde's editorial contended (11/3): "At first glance, this Oslo mini-summit looks somewhat pathetic. Once more, it brought together the president of the United States, Bill Clinton, a prime minister of Israel and the Palestinian leader, Arafat.... The choice of Oslo itself underscores how little progress has been made since 1993.... Some will say that seven years in a conflict that is 50 years old is very little. But Barak's election has awakened incredible hopes, and it would be dangerous to disappoint those who hope. Generally speaking, since he was elected, Barak has kept his promises.... The prevailing atmosphere is quite different from what it was when Netanyahu was in power. But according to the original schedule, everything has been done with delay.... The impression one has is of standing still. And in this region, impressions count. Hence the importance of the new calendar and the new hopes it carries.... While Barak is taking his time, the outcome could be a major step forward and Oslo could turn out to be useful."



"Washington Sets The Rules"



Philippe Gelie observed in right-of-center Le Figaro (11/3): "If the need is there for a little help, the U.S. president accepted the possibility of a Camp David-type summit.... But what started out as a priority for Ehud Barak before the Oslo summit, has just turned into a possible hypothesis and nothing more.... The American moderator has assigned itself the master role to make sure that the final negotiations take off on the right foot."



GERMANY: "Oslo Was Good For The Climate"



Peter Wendt concluded in right-of-center Maerkische Oderzeitung of Frankfurt on the Oder (11/4): "Although the core questions of the peace process were not addressed, President Clinton--but also Premier Ehud Barak and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat--accepted the continuation of the peace process as a legacy of former Israeli Premier Rabin. By doing so, they prepared a fertile ground for the beginning of the final status talks."



"Red Lines"



Wolfgang Guenter Lerch averred in right-of-center Frankfurter Allgemeine (11/3): "If appearances are not wrong, Oslo will once be considered the city in which the most important initiatives for the Middle East peace process were launched.... President Clinton has now called upon both sides to develop greater zeal. But until the peace work has been accomplished, the much-lauded spirit from Oslo must grow vigorously. For the final status talks, Israel's Premier Barak drew 'red lines' which he cannot cross. At a first glance, these lines appear so restrictive that the Palestinians would hardly be able to accept them. But the diplomatic game is just beginning. We can understand that Barak, in view of the tragic fate of his predecessor Rabin, wants to address the issue in a cautious manner. Arafat, in turn, must negotiate in a resolute manner if he wants to keep his reputation among the Palestinians from being damaged even more."









"Clock Is Ticking"



Thorsten Schmitz remarked in an editorial in centrist Sueddeutsche Zeitung of Munich (11/3): "If he really succeeds in accomplishing this by the end of his term, Clinton deserves a medal. But it is more likely that he will leave the White House without the creation of a Palestinian state, since peace cannot be squeezed into a scheduling book."



ITALY: "Oslo's Optimism Vs. Disputes Over Jerusalem"



Provocative, classical liberal Il Foglio underscored this theme (11/4): "While the Oslo talks among President Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat have generated a wind of optimism, even though with caution, concerning the resumption of the peace process, a stormy climate is rising in Jerusalem...as far as inter-religious relations are concerned."



"The Five 'Final Status' Knots"



Leading business Il Sole-24Ore carried this commentary by Ugo Tramballi (11/3): "As far as the Arab-Israeli political vocabulary is concerned, Oslo is currently a synonym of hope.... From its summit one could not expect more concrete decisions other than creating the atmosphere, and showing a will that is aiming at peace.... The true substance of the issues (on the table)...will be treated beginning next week, when Israeli and Palestinians will meet in their countries...to start 'final status' negotiations.... There are five monumental points of focus: the birth of the Palestinian state, its border lines with Israel, the return of four million refugees to their homes, a balanced distribution of the scarce water resources and, finally, the most difficult knot....Jerusalem.... Differences about all points remain enormous.... On Jerusalem they are abysmal. Everyone knows that, including President Clinton, Arafat and Barak."



"A New Camp David"



Enrico Franceschini predicted in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica (11/3): "Hoping that the historic (peace accords) will be repeated, the (next) appointment (will be) at Camp David. The next and decisive appointment of the peace process should be a 'marathon' summit at the end of January, at the president's country residence.... This is the agreement reached in Oslo yesterday, during a two-hour 'mini-summit' among President Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat. Before leaving for Washington, President Clinton said: 'Our meeting was very positive, it revived the peace process and, should these negotiations reach some results, we have agreed to hold another summit. Frankly, I believe that some results will be reached and the summit will take place.' No one expected miracles in Oslo. However, the summit has been useful in laying the issues on the table and confirming the common will to 'finish the job.'"



CZECH REPUBLIC: "Oslo-- An End And A New Beginning



As Frantisek Sulc commented in the right-of-center Hospodarske Noviny (11/4), "This week's summit in Oslo should be a symbol of the beginning of a new era of the Mideast peace process.... Clinton could not change the position of the stubborn [Benyamin Netanyahu], not even with threats of economic sanctions. The current Oslo Mideast meeting should mean an end and a new beginning. An end to empty talks and empty agreements, such as the one concluded at Wye Plantation which could not change anything, as one of the parties never took it seriously. Oslo is probably the beginning of a new era based on a real will to compromise.... It might not be over [very soon] although many, including Bill Clinton, whose presidency is moving towards its end, have expressed impatience. But what do months and weeks matter in a conflict that has been hot for half a century? The new beginning is what's really important."









IRELAND: "Talking Again"



The moderately conservative Irish Times declared (11/2): "President Clinton...frankly acknowledged it is not up to the United States to dictate the pace--that is the job of the main parties to the negotiations.... Mr. Barak is reluctant to stand by Rabin's undertaking to return the Golan Heights to the exact 1967 borders between the two countries before the territory was conquered by Israel. Here U.S. pressure should make quite a difference over the coming months."



POLAND: "Where Does This Road Lead?"



Marek Bankowicz judged in Catholic weekly Tygodnik Powszechny (11/3): "The hope that the world has put in Ehud Barak is beginning to come true.... The Barak government agreed to open up a passage to the Palestinians between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank...which are governed by the Palestinian Authority. The opening of the road...is a gesture which can help improve the climate in Israel-Palestine relations.... Where does this road lead? An Israeli would say: to the establishment of peace in this region. A Palestinian would be likely to say: to our independence. What is essential is that this road should be yet another one that separates the Israelis and Palestinians from the past, which is marked with hatred."



SLOVENIA: "Splendor, Optimism, But Final Peace Deal Still Seems Unlikely"



Left-of-center Delo (11/4) commented, "The two-day meeting... took place according to the American scenario. Much splendor, media attention, optimistic words, merry atmosphere, and encouraging announcements.... One has the impression that old friends met in Oslo who nod to one another, agree with what is said, and slap one another's shoulder, rather than politicians whose opinions about a number of important subjects are so different that it is impossible to harmonize them. For the public, the American-Israeli-Palestinian summit might not end murkily and unsuccessfully because Clinton simply could not afford it, whereas Barak and Arafat possess enough political wisdom that they did not want to spoil [Clinton's] last year in office. There will certainly be a lot of opportunities [to do so] in the Middle East and in the course of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.... The signing of a final peace agreement between Israel and Palestine in less than a year seems unlikely unless it is enforced."



SWEDEN: "The Necessary Push Forward"



Independent, liberal Dagens Nyheter held (11/3), "The importance of the Oslo meeting must not be underestimated. There is a great symbolic value...and President Clinton's engagement helps create special opportunities.... The Oslo meeting has given the negotiators the necessary push forward. The United States holds a central role to make the work bear fruit. But ultimately the matter is up to the two parties. The Israelis and the Palestinians are the ones who have to live with an agreement which now, in spite of all, might be within reach."



"Beyond Oslo: A Wall Around Jerusalem"



In the view of Social Democratic Aftonbladet (11/1): "Security is one of two obsessions in Oslo, and the second is concord: the worked-up expectations of how Arafat, Barak and their delegations will...talk to each other behind the official speeches and ceremonies.... Barak's policy of separation is the opposite of solid security, and light years from the vision of Rabin and Peres: an Israel which is open towards its neighbors, working with them in cooperation for a mutual development."











EAST ASIA



JAPAN: "Mixed Feelings Of Joy, Sorrow For President Clinton"



Liberal Asahi's Oslo correspondent Nishimura observed (11/4): "President Clinton's demonstration of leadership at the Oslo meeting could certainly have a positive effect on future efforts at putting the Middle East peace process back on track. But during his meeting with Russian Prime Minister Putin, Clinton remained far apart with Putin over Chechnya, missile defense and other issues.... The U.S. president also received a 'tough message' from Russian President Yeltsin, who strongly opposes revision of the ABM Treaty. Given these circumstances, President Clinton will have no other diplomatic option but to stake his remaining term of office upon the realization of Middle East peace."



VIETNAM: "From Oslo I To Oslo II"



Tran Hoai Anh argued in Lao Dong (Labor), the newspaper of Vietnam's General Confederation of Trade Unions, (11/3): "Oslo II may not end up with anything more special than a message saying: 'The spirit of the Oslo I talks is still maintained, and we are still traveling in the direction set by the Oslo I talks.'"



SOUTH ASIA



BANGLADESH: "Required: A Palestinian State"



Conservative Bangla-language Ittefaq held editorially (11/4), "It can be said without hesitation that the Oslo summit has added a new dimension to the faltering Middle East peace process. [But] who does not know that peace in the Middle East cannot be established without sincere efforts from both parties? The Palestinian side cannot be blamed for the lack of sincerity.... To prove their sincerity, the Israelis must leave Gaza and the West Bank and pave the way for establishing an independent Palestinian state soon. The people of the world ask why this procrastination and so many excuses now when a Jewish state, Israel, could be established on part of the Palestinian motherland in 1948?"



"Mideast Peace: The Long Wait For Final Settlement"



According to the centrist Independent (11/3): "The history of the Middle East peace process, since the Camp David accord in 1978, contains ample evidence that U.S. intervention is almost always an essential element for the success of Arab-Israeli negotiations. Israel's security concerns, which are also a concern for the United States, have been one of the main constraints toward any major success in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, except for the success of mutual recognition of each other in 1993. The supplementary accords are just helping the negotiation process to survive without any important breakthroughs."



WESTERN HEMISPHERE



CANADA: "Ambitious Agenda"



The liberal Toronto Star maintained (11/3): "Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat have given themselves barely 100 days to overcome 100 years of mistrust, bloodshed and wasted opportunity. On Monday, they plan to breathe new hope into the six-year-old Mideast peace process by launching talks to draft a broad political 'framework' by mid-February to set up a Palestinian state.... Barak's main challenge, in the next 100 days, is to persuade Israelis that they can serve their own interests best by offering Palestinians a generous peace, and a state that is stable enough to be a partner, not a problem."





VENEZUELA: "The Oslo Summit"



Leading, liberal El Nacional published this editorial (11/4): "Recognizing the enormous difficulties of the negotiation process, Clinton warned that an opportunity--but only one--has arisen to bring a true and lasting peace to Israel and its Arab neighbors. It is true: The opportunity is demonstrably real, but it is also a one-time opportunity. The negotiations are so sensitive that to lose this chance would be truly deadly, not only for Israel and the Arabs, but also for many countries throughout the world, the United States foremost among them. The United States' interests in the region are many and varied.... Without the United States' contribution, peace between Israel and the Arabs would be a process much more slow and intricate, if not impossible.... Clinton, Barak and Arafat have painstakingly worked to create an atmosphere of discretion so that great expectations will not hinder the results. Even with the delays that the peace process has suffered, and recognizing the caution with which that the protagonists wish their dialogue will be viewed, it is possible to think that Israelis and Palestinians will be able to welcome the new millennium in an environment of peace."



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