It was a moment that almost perfectly defined this week’s United Jewish Appeal young leadership conference in Washington. In one section of the vast Washington Hilton ballroom, hundreds of young Jews were intently listening as special U.S. peace envoy Dennis Ross and Israeli Ambassador Eliahu Ben-Elissar gave sharply differing views of the current Israeli-Palestinian stalemate.
Both major presidential candidates have joined Congress in expressing strong support for Israel in the wake of the continuing violence in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank.
Except for some bickering about oil policy, the current Mideast mess has not been a campaign issue.
But Ralph Nader and his Green Party are looking through a different lens. This week the former consumer advocate issued harsh broadsides, blaming Israel for the disorders.
This week’s historic decision giving Israel provisional membership in one of five important
At Last, Israel In At UN
by James D. Besser
This week’s historic decision giving Israel provisional membership in one of five important United Nations regional groups was hailed by Jewish and political leaders.
But they also warned that the decision to admit Israel to the Western European and Others Group (WEOG) was just the first step in what will be a long, slogging battle to remove institutional barriers to Israel’s full participation in various UN bodies.
Border Now Flashpoint As Talks Hang In Balance
Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon could be a land mine right in the middle of the potholed road to an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, and the spark that could ignite a new Syrian-Israeli military conflagration.
That’s the view of some Clinton administration officials, despite their strong support for Israel’s unilateral action ending its 18-year occupation of the security zone in Southern Lebanon.
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.
The start of final-status talks between Israel and the Palestinians — now scheduled for Sunday in Ramallah — could ignite fierce battles in the American Jewish community as negotiators wrestle with issues deemed too explosive to take up in earlier rounds.
Several American Jewish leaders say their groups are working to lay the communal groundwork for talks that could fundamentally alter the geography of the Jewish state and pierce many pro-Israel articles of faith.
Kosovo Crisis Roils U.S.-Israel Relations
U.S.-Israel relations, already strained by differences over the Oslo and Wye River agreements and the expansion of Jewish settlements, hit a new minefield this week as officials in Jerusalem signaled ambivalence about the U.S.-led NATO campaign to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
That reticence, officials here complain, damages Israel’s claim to be America’s most steadfast ally.