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August 2000 - Current Index Complete Index This Month     MiddleEast.Org 8/24/00
News, Information, & Analysis That Governments, Interest Groups, and the Corporate Media Don't Want You To Know! 
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MID-EAST REALITIES - www.MiddleEast.Org - Washington - 8/24:
   As has been the case for decades now, Israel's Labor Party has always engaged
in deception and doubletalk.   Shimon Peres's reputation for such slippery
behavior is one of the reasons he was passed over for Israel's Presidency.
   What are the facts?
   Even while pretending to have finally turned the corner and now being sincerely
concerned about the Palestinians, the government of Ehud Barak has actually
increased the pace of settlement expansion.  Just as was the case when previous
Labor governments came to power professing "moderation" to the world, under Barak
settlement expansion has not only continued but accelerated.  During the first three months of this year for instance settlement expansion nearly doubled over the last quarter of the year before.  Over one thousand new constructions in settlements "across the Green Line" were begun during the first three months of the year.  Furthermore, though Prime Minister Barak has the power to end the subsidies that encourage such settlement expansion he has refused to do so allowing most settlements to continue to enjoy substantial tax and financial benefits.  It takes a little digging, but even the New York Times reported late last year that that new construction in Israel's West Bank settlements had been authorized "at a pace exceeding that of the right-wing administration of Benjamin Netanyahu."
   The following two articles today help further uncover what Barak has really been doing, rather than what he tells the gullible media around the world.  And Barak's latest twist is his public threat to join forces with old General friend Ariel Sharon in a new "national unity government" if Arafat doesn't do what he is told and sign the next "final peace settlement".  (Note - Sharon was Foreign Minister in the previous government and refused to even shake hands with Arafat at the Wye River talks in the US).


         By Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz Diplomatic Correspondent

Ha'aretz - 24 August 2000

Israel has suspended all talks with the Palestinian Authority on matters
unresolved by the interim agreement, including the release of prisoners and
the third phase of an IDF withdrawal from the West Bank. The freeze was
decided by Prime Minister Ehud Barak following the unsuccessful Camp David

A senior political source in Jerusalem said, "these matters are not being
dealt with. There is no point in giving the opposition an excuse to ask why
[Israel] should move toward the Palestinians who have not come forward at
all or made any gesture." The source said the PA periodically asks to
discuss the unsolved issues, especially the release of more prisoners, but
these are usually half-hearted. He said "it does not seem as if they expect
talks to be renewed."

The transfer of the villages of Abu Dis, Azzariye and Suwahara, just outside
of Jerusalem's municipal borders to the PA's full control has also been
dropped from the agenda, even though it was approved by the government more
than three months ago. A decision by the cabinet before the start of the
summit to allow Barak to release further Palestinian prisoners has also not
yet been implemented.

Israel and the PA are holding talks on a permanent status agreement on two
channels, both mediated by U.S. special envoy to the Middle East, Dennis

* The core issues: Acting Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and attorney Gilad
Sher are meeting with Saeb Erekat and Mohammed Dahlan from the PA. The
purpose of the discussions is to put on paper those matters verbally agreed
upon at the Thurmont talks, such as borders, security arrangements and
settlements, as well as to discuss a point of departure over the issue of
Jerusalem. An Israeli source said Wednesday that there has not yet been any
significant progress or any leniency in the Palestinian's stance over

* The general matters: Chief Israeli negotiator Oded Eran is meeting with
Erekat to discuss matters related to daily life after the final-status
agreement. Professional groups are dealing with each matter separately.
There has been some advancement here, though discussions over water rights
remain suspended.

The next stop on the peace trail is a series of meetings between U.S.
President Bill Clinton and Barak and PA Chairman Yasser Arafat at the UN
headquarters in New York. The Clinton-Barak meeting has been scheduled for
September 6. "The meeting with Arafat will give us a clear indication of the
chances of an agreement," said an Israeli source. He said that this meeting
is no less important that Clinton's meeting with the late Syrian President
Hafez Assad in Geneva at the end of March, which effectively signaled the
end of efforts to secure an agreement between Israel and her northern

                    BARAK WARNS PALESTINIANS

                       By JACK KATZENELL

JERUSALEM (AP - 24 August) - In a clear warning to the Palestinians, Prime Minister Ehud Barak said Thursday he will not make peace at any price and that if negotiations
fail, he will ask the hawkish opposition party Likud to join his government.

The Palestinians dismissed Barak's warning and the Likud rejected his offer.

Barak said it will become clear within a few weeks whether a peace treaty is possible. Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat have accused each other of
intransigence and have said they will not budge from positions adopted at July's Mideast summit at Camp David.

In interviews on Israel's two main radio stations Thursday, Barak said he was aware that Likud leader Ariel Sharon could not join the coalition as long as peace talks
continued. Likud is staunchly opposed to concessions Barak has offered Arafat, including Palestinian statehood in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

``I know that today they (the opposition parties) can't join, but maybe in a few weeks, they will be able to do so,'' Barak told Israel army radio, adding that he
believed the peace talks had a 50-50 chance of success.

Barak said that if peace talks fail, he would direct his attention to domestic problems. Earlier this week, he had announced a ``social revolution,'' saying he planned to adopt a constitution within a year, pass civil marriage laws and make English and math mandatory subjects in all schools.

The prime minister said Thursday that the secular Likud would be a natural partner in carrying out such sweeping changes. Barak also noted that Sharon has already
served as foreign minister and could be foreign minister again.

``If it will not be possible to reach an agreement with our neighbors, the real way is to expand the government, to establish a very broad government,'' he told Israel

Barak's courting of the Likud came as Israel's acting foreign minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, met in Alexandria with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Foreign Minister Amr Moussa, to hear their proposals for a compromise with the Palestinians on the future of Jerusalem, the issue that led to the collapse of Camp David talks.

Barak lost his parliamentary majority on the eve of the summit when three right-wing parties quit his coalition because they objected to concessions he was about to
make to the Palestinians.

Palestinian negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo dismissed Barak's warning, saying peace is first and foremost in Israel's interest.

``I think Israel knows very well that the doors of the region will not be open (to it), except through the gates of Jerusalem and through an equitable solution to the
Palestinian cause,'' Abed Rabbo said.

Sharon said the Likud should not join the Barak government ``in light of its many concessions, especially over Jerusalem, and its total failure in its handling of
domestic issues.'' The duty of the Likud is ``to bring down this incompetent government,'' Sharon said.

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