Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Not Going to Renege on Peace' Locals with Ties to Mideast Express Netanyahu Concern

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Not Going to Renege on Peace' Locals with Ties to Mideast Express Netanyahu Concern

Article excerpt

Sam Samir Farhat of Jacksonville is troubled that Israeli voters

have elected Benjamin Netanyahu to succeed Shimon Peres as prime

minister of Israel.

Netanyahu and his Likud Party defeated Peres' Labor Party last

week, claiming 50.4 percent of the vote in what was seen in

Israel as a referendum on the pace and scope of the peace

process in the Mideast.

Netanyahu has promised to take a hard line toward Palestinians

and neighboring Arab nations by promising to block the creation

of a Palestinian state and by increasing Jewish settlements in

the West Bank.

"Netanyahu is not going to renege on the peace process, but he

is going to delay it," said Farhat, who is an Arab Israeli.

Farhat's reaction to the election was typical among area

residents with ties to the Mideast, who also feared that

Netanyahu's victory would strengthen the hand of radicals in

Israel and plunge the region into another wave of violence.

Former state Rep. Kathy Chinoy said she followed the elections

"with great concern. The election makes the chance for a lasting

peace slimmer; that is the fear," she said.

Chinoy, a member of the local Jewish community, has visited

Israel and found the majority of people there want peace. She

said she hopes Netanyahu's election rhetoric was just that. "He

is not going to be as bad as we think, nor as good as we hope.

Time will tell; we must pray for the best."

Former Jacksonville mayor Tommy Hazouri, whose descendants came

from Lebanon, said he, too, was concerned that the election

outcome would threaten peace. "It's my prayer that the new

leadership wants to keep Israelis' [interests] and Palestinians'

interests at heart.

"The eyes of the world are going to be on Netanyahu to see what

kind of statesman he is," Hazouri said. …

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