Even as they wade through a swamp of unresolved controversies on their interim peace agreement amid distrust exacerbated by a terrorist murder, Benjamin Netanyahu and Yasir Arafat face the threat of that agreement’s broader collapse at their summit near Washington this week.
Striding across the opulent lobby of Manhattan’s Waldorf-Astoria Hotel last Sunday morning, Michael Sonnenfeldt, chair of the pro-peace Israel Policy Forum, spotted Malcolm Hoenlein, the top executive of the nation’s leading Jewish umbrella group — the 50-year-old Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
“It seems like I’m always following you around,” joked Sonnenfeldt, a private investor with a linebacker’s build, extending his hand.
Hillary Rodham Clinton, meeting at the White House this week with 25 rabbis, appeared to back away from her previous support for a Palestinian state, reportedly saying the issue should be left to Israel and the Palestinians.
But Clinton’s Communications Director Marsha Berry, after consulting with the first lady, told The Jewish Week that Clinton’s “personal position” favoring a Palestinian state remains unchanged.
As European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana sought further clarification this week of a Saudi statement that promised true Middle East peace, the idea that Israel would no longer be virtually isolated amid hostile Arab neighbors brought a glimmer of hope to Israelis still reeling from a week that left some 70 Israelis and Palestinians dead.
With Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party seen cruising to victory in Tuesday's national election, political pundits speculated on how Sharon was going to form the unity government he prefers with the Labor Party, whose leader has vowed to remain in opposition.