TEL AVIV (Dec. 12)
Jeane Kirkpatrick, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, ruled out the possibility of Israeli-Arab peace in the foreseeable future because of what she contends is a lack of commitment to democracy by the Palestinians.
But two Israeli scholars indicated that Israel has to meet the current Palestinian peace offensive with a credible policy initiative of its own.
They and others spoke at the first session of the fourth annual Jeane Kirkpatrick Forum at Tel Aviv University, named in honor of the former envoy, who was an outspoken friend of Israel in the world organization.
The theme this year is “The year 2000: Prospects and Possibilities for Arab-Israeli Cooperation.”
Kirkpatrick, known for her ultraconservative view of world affairs, insisted there were no prospects for peace until the Palestinians conformed to democratic values.
She also noted that both Israel and the United States emerged from their recent elections with divided governments, leaving both countries without the ability to undertake policy departures that do not enjoy a broad consensus.
Professor Itamar Rabinovitch, director of Tel Aviv University’s Dayan Center, observed that the Palestine Liberation Organization was changing its tone and language in an effort to satisfy American conditions for dialogue,
Dr. Shai Feldman, of the university’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, said a serious situation would develop if the PLO’s new tone succeeds in Washington but Israel responds with a negative position.
Another speaker, U.S. Sen. Robert Kasten (R-Wis.), said American-Israel cooperation will be preserved under the incoming Bush administration.
He said there would be no diminution of U.S. economic and military aid to Israel and it will continue to be given in the form of grants.
Kasten said the American-Israeli strategic cooperation agreement would save Israel $100 million or more a year for the next 25 years.
He said interest rates on military loans will continue to be linked to current market levels and Israel will be allowed to compete with the NATO countries in arms sales to the United States.
Kasten said Israel’s role in the Strategic Defense Initiative will depend on the level of funding the Congress provides for the highly controversial program, known as “Star Wars.”
Dr. Joseph Goell, a Jerusalem Post columnist, said Israel’s political system has ceased to function and is in urgent need of reform.