Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bombs' Fallout Dusts Israeli Election Peres Drops in Polls, as Voters Link Him with Peace Process

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bombs' Fallout Dusts Israeli Election Peres Drops in Polls, as Voters Link Him with Peace Process

Article excerpt

ISRAEL'S DEADLY weekend of terrorist bombings is complicating an already heated election there and giving rise to new worries - both in Washington and in the Middle East - about the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestinians.

In an interview Monday, Robert Pelletreau, assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, maintained that the violence that killed 27 and wounded scores in Israel would not derail the peace process nor weaken U.S. support for it.

But Pelletreau acknowledged that the bombings by Palestinian terrorists caused new political problems for Prime Minister Shimon Peres, a strong advocate of the peace process who has had a strong lead in the early stages of Israel's election campaign.

"We have seen incidents of violence in the past. Although disruptive, they don't have the effect of undermining the peace process," Pelletreau said.

But he said, "There's no question that in the polls taken in Israel today, there was a much closer alignment between Prime Minister Peres and the major Likud candidate."

Before the bombings Sunday, Peres had been leading by 10 to 15 percentage points in his race against Likud bloc leader Benjamin Netanyahu, an ardent opponent of the peace agreements negotiated with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

By Monday, Peres' lead in early polls had shrunk by 5 to 6 percentage points.

Peres' political fate is so closely linked to the peace process because his staunch support of it has made him a problematic Israeli leader. Israelis had much greater faith in his predecessor, Yitzhak Rabin, a battle-tested warrior trusted not to trade away his country's security interests in the quest for peace.

But Rabin was assassinated in November by an Israeli opposed to the peace negotiations.

The suicide bombings Sunday were the first in more than six months of relative calm for Israel.

In a telephone interview from Israel, leading political analyst Mark Heller, a senior research associate at Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies, described Peres' drop in the polls as part of "an awful pattern" that regularly follows terrorist attacks in Israel. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.