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Signs of Likud Flexibility Emerge

Signs are growing in Jerusalem that Israel is trying to regain the political momentum that has lately shifted to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Moshe Arens, the hawkish Likud foreign minister, surprised both the left and the right in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday with an uncharacteristically moderate speech.

“In my opinion there is room for an Israeli initiative. We don’t have to stick to all the old positions, to build a wall of stones and change nothing,” Arens said.

His remarks delighted leftists like Yossi Sarid of the Citizens Rights Movement, but stunned Hanan Porat, a hard-line member of the National Religious Party.

Porat, who is associated with militant Gush Emunim settlers movement, warned Arens against proposed free elections in the administered territories. “They will bring a tragedy. We know who will be elected and what flags would fly.”

Arens emphatically denied reports that he has already submitted an Israeli peace initiative to the United States.

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