Moussa Suggests Arabs-Only Hebron: Egyptian Decries Efforts for 400 Jews

By Howard, Michael | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 24, 1996 | Go to article overview

Moussa Suggests Arabs-Only Hebron: Egyptian Decries Efforts for 400 Jews


Howard, Michael, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


CAIRO - Foreign Minister Amr Moussa is offering a simple if controversial solution to the Israeli-Palestinian impasse over Hebron: All 400 Jewish settlers should leave the West Bank city.

"The solution for them to stay is wrong," Mr. Moussa told The Washington Times in a characteristically blunt interview this week.

"We cannot legitimize their status as settlers, but if they do stay, then the security measures for them will have to be commensurate with their small number," he said of the Jews who live among 100,000 Arabs. "There is no need for all these complex security arrangements."

Negotiations on the future of Hebron are hung up over Israeli demands for changes in the self-rule accords drawn up in 1995. Israel seeks better security guarantees, the right to future expansion of the settlements and limits on Palestinian building near Jewish areas.

Mr. Moussa said the Israeli demands in effect say 400 Jews are "more important than 400,000 Arabs."

"An Arab is equal to a Jew, not a millimeter less than that. If the Israelis abandon all that and be reasonable, then we'll see the signing of something very soon," he said. The foreign minister welcomed a call from French President Jacques{D-} Chirac, who is touring the region, for Europe to play a greater role in the peace process.

"We do welcome that. We believe that Europe will be able to introduce an element of balance. They don't say yes to Israel all the way, not that they are supposed to say `yes' to the Arabs either."

Mr. Moussa said any European role should supplement, not replace, the American role.

On the peace process as a whole, Mr. Moussa said the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must recognize the need for compromise on the basis of land for peace.

"It's either this or no peace process," he said. "Netanyahu seems to believe that it is possible to create relations of peace without paying the price. This would be an impossible peace, because no amount of pressure in the entire world will convince us to give Netanyahu something free of charge. …

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