After weeks of refusing to negotiate Holocaust claims with an Austrian government that includes the anti-immigrant Freedom Party, a Jewish leader has proposed a solution: negotiate with the Austrian National Fund, a body established by Austria's parliament to pay compensation to as many as 30,000 victims of Nazi persecution.
Israel, which has made it a point not to walk out of the United Nations despite all of the abuse hurled at it from member nations over the years, will be pointedly absent when the General Assembly convenes on Monday, Yom Kippur.
So will President Bill Clinton. Israel's ambassador to the UN, Dore Gold, said this is the first time an American president has not spoken at the start of the General Assembly's general debate. He will speak Tuesday instead.
As many as 1,000 Iranian Jews will soon be able to leave their homeland for Austria, the first step in a two-step process for gaining admission to the United States as refugees.
Until now, these Jews were unable to apply for Austrian visas because they did not have friends or relatives outside of Iran who could put up the requisite $2,100 security deposit needed for those wishing to wait in Vienna while their refugee applications are reviewed. The money is required to assure Austria that the applicants do not become wards of the state.
Gaps narrowed in Israeli-Palestinian talks, but no breakthroughs
Lawrence Cohler-Esses and James D. Besser
Like Lucy holding out her football for Charlie Brown to kick again, President Clinton, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat once more raised the world’s expectations Monday for a breakthrough on their long-stalled peace agreement.
But when the three faced an expectant White House press corps after their meeting, Clinton again voiced the phrases heard so often before.
As this blog reported last week, longtime U.S. Middle East peace negotiator and pro-Israel think tanker Dennis Ross is going over to the White House; as numerous blogs have reported, it’s something of a promotion for Ross, who had a nebulous role at the State Department as a special envoy to something or other.
As if it didn’t have enough on its plate, the Obama administration is now set to try to work some reform magic on the UN Human Rights Council, a group set up to monitor human rights conditions around the world but which is led by some of the worst abusers anywhere and which seems to have little interest in anything but Israel.
On Tuesday the General Assembly elected the United States to the council following a decision by the Obama administration to seek membership.
In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s the story: at every year’s policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, leaders of the group read out the names of all the congressional, administration and diplomatic officials attending. Reporters keep count, hometown delegations cheer for their representatives and the message has the subtlety of a good sock in the jaw: this is a lobby with real clout.