NEW YORK (Mar. 12)
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens hinted here Saturday that he may be carrying proposals to advance the peace process with him to Washington.
“We feel it is incumbent upon us to make a special effort to introduce new momentum and renewed momentum into the peace process,” said Arens, who was to meet at the White House Monday morning with President Bush.
Arens is in the United States for the first high-level meetings between the new American and Israeli administrations. He stopped in New York to address the America Israel Friendship League dinner here Saturday night.
Arens said he is hoping his meetings with Bush and other administration officials will strengthen the “solid foundation of friendship and relationship of alliance between Israel and the United States.”
Arens’ meetings in Washington are to lay the groundwork for a visit next month by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. Bush has been saying publicly that he is hoping for significant peace proposals to come out of these meetings.
Published reports on Sunday said Arens will be greeted with a list of specific suggestions from the Bush administration, a list that will reportedly be conveyed to the Palestine Liberation Organization, as well.
NEW U.S. REQUESTS
According to The New York Times, the list will include asking Israel to free some of the Palestinians arrested during the uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and asking the PLO to halt violent demonstrations in those areas.
In his speech Saturday night, Arens made specific references to the Palestinian uprising, calling attention to the recent firebomb attacks on Israeli citizens and the stabbing death last month of an Israeli civilian in Jerusalem.
Defending Israel’s role in putting down the uprising, the foreign minister said, “We believe that giving in to terrorism encourages further violence, and we believe that giving in to violence could spell disaster.”
Nevertheless, he said, “we must make a special effort to convince those who have been recalcitrant in the past to come forward and negotiate peace with us.”
He said Israel must find, among the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza, “authentic representatives to come forward and talk — not firebombs, not violence, but come forward and talk peace.”
Arens’ schedule in Washington includes meetings with Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, Secretary of State James Baker and National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.
He will deliver addresses Tuesday at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and Thursday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Besides Arens, speakers at Saturday’s dinner included Israeli Knesset member Chaim Ramon of Labor and Sen. Paul Simon (D-III.).