Clinton's Mid-East Deal Finally Secured
Jerusalem, Andrew Marshall, The Independent (London, England)
A DEAL on Middle East peace was finally signed yesterday, but it sparked a furious row between Israel and the United States, and brought angry reactions from Palestinians and Israelis alike.
The agreement was initialled at the White House last night by the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, with President Bill Clinton and King Hussein of Jordan. But eight days of tense negotiations have left little trust, and Mr Clinton came under heavy attack at home for the circumstances of the deal.
Madeleine Albright, the US Secretary of State, praised the President for writing "a new chapter in the pursuit of permanent peace". The President warned that "the enemies of peace will seek to extract a price from both sides". But, she said, "the work at Wye River shows what happens when the will for peace is strong". King Hussein, who made an emotional appeal for peace to the Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday night, is undergoing cancer treatment in the US and looked gaunt and frail. At the last moment the deal nearly foundered as the Israelis demanded the immediate release of Jonathan Pollard, who spied for Israel in the Eighties and is serving a life sentence in America. The US refused but Israel insisted on the issue, dragging out the talks for an extra eight hours. "I have agreed to review this matter seriously at the Prime Minister's request," Mr Clinton said tersely. "I have made no commitment to the outcome of this review." He looked tired and drawn following 24 hours of negotiation. The Israelis insisted that America had pledged Mr Pollard's release during the week's negotiations, and that without this there would have been no deal. Israel had agreed to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, and accepted that Palestine would not extradite all those whom Israel accuses of terrorism. "The return of our prisoners was an integral component of the overall agreement," said Ariel Sharon, Israel's Foreign minister yesterday. The Americans furiously denied this. "Any suggestion by any quarter that the President made a commitment to release Jonathan Pollard is inaccurate and false," said Jamie Rubin, the State Department spokesman. The release of Pollard would spark fury in the US, especially on the political right and in the military and intelligence establishments. Pollard leaked secrets to Israel that covered not just US-Israeli relations but details of sensitive data concerning the then Soviet Union, which Israel traded to Moscow in return for the release of Russian Jews. Any decision to release him will be depicted as an attempt to boost Mr Clinton's prestige ahead of congressional elections at the expense of national security. Mr Clinton in 1994 and 1996 rejected a presidential pardon for Pollard, and his predecessor George Bush, just before leaving office in January 1993, also refused to grant Pollard clemency. In Houston, Mr Bush was asked whether he would have problems if Pollard was released as part of a Middle East peace deal. "I would ... just on the face of it. They've been trying to do that for a long, long time, but this is the first time I've heard of this - not …
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Publication information: Article title: Clinton's Mid-East Deal Finally Secured. Contributors: Jerusalem, Andrew Marshall - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: October 24, 1998. Page number: 1. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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