Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Sivan 5761 - May 23, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Israel, Palestinians Accept Mitchell Report; U.S. Appointing Emissary
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

"The Mitchell report is acceptable to us in principle. We had comments, which we conveyed, and they are clear," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said. PA Chairman Yasser Arafat welcomed the report and called for a Middle East summit to be reconvened to implement its recommendations. Speaking at a press conference in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell endorsed the report and also announced that Ambassador to Jordan William Burns will serve as his special assistant on the conflict. Burns is also designated to become assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs.

Powell said that Burns will continue as ambassador to Jordan, but will also "make himself available to the parties." He will be reporting to the U.S. Secretary of State and to the U.S. president about the progress and may suggest ways for them to become more actively involved. "When Ambassador Burns is completed with this initial round of discussions, I will determine what more I might do in a personal way to promote the process," said Powell.

Powell said that Egyptian-Jordanian proposals for a cease- fire and fresh negotiations could find a place in the "implementation plan" Burns will try to lay out. Up to now, in its first four months, the U.S. Administration has been emphasizing its differences with the Clinton government by not appointing anyone to give special attention to the conflict. The appointment of Burns marks a public change in that approach.

Minister Without Portfolio Dan Naveh, who coordinated the government's efforts with the Mitchell Committee, called Mitchell and expressed Israel's appreciation for his work.

According to Naveh, Mitchell repeated a number of times during their conversation that an end to the violence needs to take place immediately and is not dependent on the implementation of any other recommendation in the report, including the settlement freeze.

"The United States is a very strong ally and supporter of Israel. But even in such close relationships there are differences of opinion," Senator Mitchell told Reuters. "Every American administration for the past 25 years has opposed the actions and policies of the government of Israel with respect to settlements."

The report also recommends that the PA make clear that "terrorism is reprehensible and unacceptable" and take "immediate steps to apprehend and incarcerate terrorists operating within the PA's jurisdiction."

Mitchell said that "we wish to make clear we do not regard one recommendation as conditioned upon another. We did not establish any moral or political equivalence between the steps."

The Israeli prime minister's spokesman, Ra'anan Gissin, said that the remarks of the U.S. Secretary of State at the press conference fell short of an adoption of the Mitchell Committee's recommendation for a complete freeze of settlement construction, including for natural growth, and added that he thinks it is possible for a "bridging proposal" to be made on the issue that would satisfy all sides.

One such proposal is the so-called Peres plan, whereby new settlements would not be established, no land would be expropriated for building purposes, and construction would take place only within existing settlements.

However, responding to Arafat's call for a summit to discuss the report, Gissin said violence has to end before any summit can be held, and accused the Palestinian side of "playing games."

"I think the Palestinians are evading the issue," he said. "There is no need to reconvene the Sharm e-Sheikh forum, because you first need to stop hostilities. Then, if you want to convene a meeting, in any place in the world, that's fine."

Right wing MKs called on Sharon to reject the report outright, saying that if the government agrees to halt settlement expansion it would amount to giving a prize for murder.


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