Eric J. Greenberg and James D. Besser
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.
In meetings with President Bill Clinton in Washington this week, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak is expected to lay out his vision for cementing peace treaties with the Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. The summit follows a week of confidence-building, ice-breaking meetings with Arab leaders that generated high expectations.
Clinton has said he has his own peace proposals, and the two men are expected to try to crystallize them all when they meet again Monday with their staffs in attendance.
Although he was on the verge of assembling a coalition government poised and committed to making peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors, Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak appears to have glossed over domestic conflicts.
“There are a lot of conflicting interests in the coalition,” observed Gerald Steinberg, a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan. “The question is whether the parties are going to agree to disagree, or will areas of disagreement keep coming up and hobble the government.”
The first 76 Jews from the Quara region of Ethiopia arrived in Israel this week on a regularly scheduled Ethiopian Airlines flight after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered an all-out effort to bring them to Israel.
The surprise resignation of Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri Tuesday evening came as Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak was on the verge of assembling a minority government after hitting a stone wall in his attempt to form a broad based coalition.