Maoz: Formula Needed For Deal On Syria Track

Staff Writer
Moshe Maoz, a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies at the Hebrew University and former director of the Harry S Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace in Tel Aviv, is a recognized expert on Syria and Lebanon. Maoz, 64, and the father of two, lives with his wife in Jerusalem. He was interviewed while visiting New York as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright prepared for her visit this week to Damascus.

Will The Son Make Peace?

Staff Writer
As Syrian President Hafez Assad was buried Tuesday following a fatal heart attack three days earlier, all eyes shifted to his son Bashar to see if the military and political establishment that thrust him into his father’s shoes would remain loyal to him. Leaders in several countries also expressed the hope that Bashar, 34, a British-trained ophthalmologist, would break the stalemate that has prevented a Syrian-Israeli peace treaty.

Syria Fighting Adds To Barak’s Woes

Staff Writer
After two weeks of preliminary talks, Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak was to begin serious negotiations with political parties late this week to form the broad coalition government he promised. But before the talks began, Barak met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discussed the latest fighting in southern Lebanon.

Syria Readies For Talks, But Assad Won’t Budge

Staff Writer
Syria reportedly began shuffling its ambassadors and assembling a negotiating team for peace talks with Israel even as Israeli and Palestinian officials met for the first time Monday to develop a framework for a peace treaty a year from now. “We have the impression … that Syria considers more than ever before that peace serves its strategic assets,” Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy told Israel army radio. “In the last month there have been more signs that Syria wants to return to the negotiating table.”

Syria Strike May Not Be The Last

Staff Writer
Israel’s surprise air strike in Syria Sunday on what it described as a Palestinian terrorist training camp may not be the last, Israeli officials warned this week as they pursued a new way to halt terror attacks that claimed another 19 Israeli lives at a restaurant in Haifa last weekend.

Russian Firms Get Sanctions

Russian Firms Get Sanctions

Jewish groups welcomed last week’s imposition of sanctions on three Russian companies accused of supplying military technology to Syria, but expressed concern about the impact of the wor

Washington Correspondent

Russian Firms Get Sanctions

Jewish groups welcomed last week’s imposition of sanctions on three Russian companies accused of supplying military technology to Syria, but expressed concern about the impact of the worsening U.S.-Russian relationship on Jews in the former Soviet Union and on the Middle East peace process.
The sanctions decision set off alarm bells in Jerusalem, where officials fear that their recent diplomatic efforts to press Russia on the proliferation question could be compromised by the new U.S. action.
The administration action touched off an angry blast from the foreign ministry in Moscow, which described the move as “illegal from the point of view of the international law,” and warned that it represented one more blow to relations strained by differences over the NATO campaign against Serbia.
Jewish groups generally welcomed the move — the first time officials here have imposed sanctions based on dealings with Syria.
“My feeling is that the United States is trying to find a credible approach to the problem of proliferation,” said Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
But other observers warned that sinking U.S.-Russian relations will reduce this country’s leverage in the battle against the new epidemic of Russian anti-Semitism.
“Historically, U.S. leverage on issues like anti-Semitism is greatest when the relationship is good. When relations cool, it declines,” said Robert O. Freedman, president of Baltimore Hebrew University. “And relations are definitely cooling.”
Last week’s sanctions decision “confirm the rumors we’ve heard for a long time about major arms deals between Russian and Syria,” he said. “This is one more effort by [Prime Minister Yevgeny] Primakov to reintroduce the Russians into the Middle East.”
Mark N. Katz, an expert in U.S.-Russian relations at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., agreed that the Primakov factor is troubling. He cited recent reports that Primakov, an old Mideast hand with close ties to Saddam Hussein, received an $800,000 payment from the Iraqi government in 1997.
Katz warned that sanctions alone will not be enough to slow Russia’s dealings with countries such as Iraq, Iran and Syria.
“The Clinton people keep saying we have to treat them gently or we lose leverage,” he said. “But we never seem to get what we want, anyway. We need to talk more openly about more sweeping measures.”

Nightmare Budget Awaits Legislators

Lawmakers come back from their spring recess on Tuesday, and waiting for them will be an explosive budget debate that Jewish leaders fear may result in big cuts to domestic programs and new problems for Israel’s foreign aid.
The first confrontation will come as legislators resume bickering over the administration’s supplemental aid request that includes money for hurricane disaster relief in Central America and a special appropriation for Jordan.
That measure has been loaded down with special appropriations for a number of business interests, increasing the chances of a presidential veto.
And congressional Republicans have insisted that the supplemental money must be “offset” by cuts in already-strapped domestic spending programs. That could be a troubling precedent when Israel’s supplemental aid comes up for review later in the year.
Before they left town, both Houses passed budget resolutions providing a rough blueprint for Fiscal Year 2000 spending. The Republican-crafted proposals are based on the 1997 deficit-reduction agreement, with stringent spending caps that leave little maneuvering room.
At the same time, GOP leaders are insisting on significant tax cuts and increases in military spending. The war in Kosovo will add even more pressure on congressional budgeters.
“Basically we’re in the third year of a five-year deficit-reduction process,” said Reva Price, Washington representative for the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
“Congress backloaded the cuts because nobody wanted to admit up front how difficult the process would be. As a result, this year’s budget is turning into a nightmare.”

Jerusalem  Embassy Deadline Approaching — Again

Next week could produce some dramatic news in the fight to force the Clinton administration to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Split On How To Deal With Syria

Staff Writer
’Convergence” may soon be relegated to the scrap pile of outdated Mideast phrases, along with “road map” and so many others. For as Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert struggled this week to shore up his faltering coalition and respond to calls for a commission to examine the failures of the war in Lebanon, his plans to withdraw from large areas of the West Bank were shelved. The government’s new focus will be on repairing the damage Hezbollah rockets caused in the north and strengthening that area in the event of further attacks.

Israel Getting Dragged Into Syrian Mess

Staff Writer
International pressure was mounting on Syria this week with the release of an interim report by the United Nations tying Damascus to the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and another U.N. report charging that Syria was maintaining indirect military control of Lebanon despite withdrawing its troops last spring. The latter report, prepared by U.N. special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen, said Syria was using its agents in the army, intelligence organizations and Lebanese administration.

Jordan King: Assad Ready For Peace

Staff Writer
King Abdullah of Jordan said his recent meeting with Hafez Assad has convinced him that the Syrian president is ready to sign a peace agreement with Israel. "I believe that President Assad is very keen to move in the right direction and have a peace with Israel," he told The Jewish Week on Monday during the final leg of a 10-day visit to the United States. "I am very optimistic with the statements that are coming out of Damascus."

The Enigma of Assad

Washington Correspondent
Early this year, an Israeli diplomat, speaking to Jewish activists here, described Syrian President Hafez Assad as “a sphinx … an enigma.” This week, that enigma sent his foreign minister to Washington to resume direct negotiations with Israel, under U.S. auspices — the culmination of months of secret diplomacy that did little to diminish Assad’s reputation for impenetrability.
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