The Ultimatum, the Summit and the peace process

By Fr. Labib Kobti

January 1998

1. What are We Waiting For?

Everyone is wating for the upcoming meetings between President Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and President Clinton and President Arafat. Many are wary, for they harbor deep feelings that President Clinton will adopt the Israeli position as elucidated by PM Netanyahu, while publicly agreeing with the postion of President Arafat. I regret that this is our new position, President Clinton would say to President Arafat.

This is not the first time that this has happened. It happened upon the election of Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel, and the formula changed from Security for Peace to Land for Peace. This is what happened in the past at the time of the Tunnel Opening incident when Clinton met with King Hussein, Netanyahu and Arafat. This is what happened in the past when the Clintion administration vetoed two resolutions in the UN Security Council pertaining to Israel violations of Oslo as well as the intent to build on Jabal Abu-Ghneim the Jewish settlement of Har - Homa. Clinton was alawys sorry to take that or this position in public when inprivate he was saying or showing other stands.

This is a recurrent "process" that is expected to recur again at this upcoming summit

2- Why Will It Happen?

**Because in certain ways PM Netanyahu is more powerful than President Clinton**. Netanyaho wields more clout in the US than President Clinton does.

a - President Clinton is still wary of the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) lobby and it's influence on key members of the Congress of the United States. He is afraid to take a clear stand.

b - As a corrollary to the above, President Clinton must take local political considerations into effect: i.e, he must consider Democratic members of Congress who do not want to loose the Jewish votes at re-election time, a threat that is always raised when there is a perception that an anti-Israeli action, or an action detrimental to the State of Israel is being taken by the U.S. President Clinton is afraid to show stand for the *TRUTH* and say the word of *JUSTICE*.

c. President Clinton has appointed more pro-Israeli appointees to the Executive Branch than any other US President in history. AlGore a future candidate to the Presidency will not appreciate if President Clinton would anger thsoe people. President Clinton is afraid to anger his candidate then.

d. President Clinton, for the above reasons, must keep one eye on the Republican Party, The controll the Congress, they will jump at any opportunity to seize an issue in the next Presidential election. (although it should be pointed out that the majority of Jewish voters traditionally vote Democrat). He is afraid for his party then if he takes any other stand...

e. Scandals of a personal nature which have damaged his second term. President Clinton is afraid the his friends would open the files as they have the keys to open them or close them when they want...

Prime Minister Netanyahu is perfectly aware of the above. He is well informed by these fears nursed by President Clinton.Snubbled by Clinton on his recent visit to the USA he insisted, upon meeting with Secretary of State Albright in Europe, that he be invited this time by President Clinton himself, obviously he feels he is in a stronger position than Presiednt Clinton. His power play is to demonstrate to Pres. Clinton that he can influence or control key elements of Congress, the Democratic Party and it's future, the "Jewish vote", Jewish political monetary contributions, and thus influence who the next president of the United States will be.

3. - The Future of the Peace Process

The future of the Middle East Peace Process cannot be dependent on the Netanyahu-Clinton summit; at least it shouldn't. A "peace process" is no longer a creditable process if the main parties involved have no true reciprocity insured by the broker who is presiding. It becomes a unilateral and not a bilateral negotiation. Were this unilateralism to be the outcome of the upcoming meetings in Washignton, this would prove not only to be unfruitful and unjust, it would be unsetting to the overall harmony in the Middel East. The entire world is aware of the risk and dangers of this process.

a. President Clinton should call for a summit meeting similar to the one held against Terrorism in Cairo, Egypt. The leaders of the world are responsible for the fture of the entire region and not just the United States of America. The entire world affixed their signatures for Anti-Terrorism. The failure of the Peace Process is in effect the "Process of Terrorisms" in the entire region, if not the entire world. By doing this, the President will overcome his parochial fears and the the Congress, the Jewish lobby, Israel and his administration in front of the TRUTH, in a statesmanlike fashion.

b. President Clinton could also call on Russia to be a party to the summit. Russia is also a broker of the Peace Process and has it's own responsibilities. Once again President Clinton can show his ability to act independently of his fears.

c. President Clinton could -as it has been done "injustly" in the case of Iraq- call on the United Nations to share this process with him. He can present fomally to Netanyahu the many UN resolutions signed by Israel, the many agreements signed at Oslo, Madrid and Washington, and meet with Netanyahu at the UN and not at the White House.This will also present an air of objectivity to the world community. Were he to do so, he would make manifest his ability to be more impartial and to overcome his own personnal political fears. It is clear that, on the one hand, Clinton publicly professes to follow a "hand-off" policy in the Peace Process. In the other hand, the huge sums of money the US awards Israel annually makes it more than evident that a "hand-off" policy is not at all in the offing.

President Clinton should face the whole world with *TRUTH*, Justice and peace

4 - Clinton Needs Help!

President Clinton needs help. He is hamstrung by his fears of the potential impact that the supporters of Benjamin Netanyahu in the United States can have on not only his administration but subsequent Democratic administrations.

a - The Secretary General of the UN has an obligation in the spirit of Justice, peace and *TRUHT* to show President Clinton that the Peace Process is a matter manhandled by gamesmanship and self-serving strategies rather than the policies that address the real injustices suffered by the citizens who inhabit the Palestinian territories under occupation.

b- The European community should take a more active role and demonstrate that the US cannot deal with this issue alone, against the will of the international community, and quite possibly put the world in danger because of the above cited fears. The issues of Iraq, iran, Lybia, Sudan, Cuba, South America...are other examples of the incapacity of the USA to deal alone with the world issues...

c - It is imperative that the Arab countries state uniquivocally show to the USA Administration that they cannot respect a country which is working, not as an "honest or impartial broker", but rather for the interest of only one side. Moroever, that this conduct is predicated on presidential electoral fears. They must state that they can no longer depend on the United States at the international level, for Justice and Peace. They have to take one stand all together to stop to deal with the USA unless it overcomes its fears and work as Honest Broker and get written guarantees.

d - The Palestinians should ask that the UN, Russia, Europe and the Arab Countries write to President Clinton. They should call for an International lawsuit against Israel and the USA based on the injustices inflicted on the Palestinian People on an ongoing basis ( billions in US dollars in foreign aid, loans, outright grants, etc. that are sustaining the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, contributing to the building of settlements on conquered territory in direct disregard for the Geneva IV convention to which both parties are a signatory, the demolition of homes, collective punishment, the jailing of people without charge or the right to an attorney, etc...)

It is only when President Clinton can look into his conscience, into his soul, and find the God of Justice and Peace, the righteous God who demands Truth, then and only then will he understand that the issue of the Peace Process is an issue of Human Rights, that transcends his own personal interests and fears. This is what a true statesman must do.

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