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Israel Delighted by Senate Letter Urging U.S. Backing for Peace Plan

Israeli officials expressed delight this weekend at the boost Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s peace plan has received from the U.S. Senate.

Likud officials were euphoric over news that 92 senators had sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, urging him to express strong public support for Shamir’s plan to advance the peace process by holding Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“This is a great achievement for Shamir’s initiative,” said Foreign Minister Moshe Arens.

He was echoed by Shamir’s media adviser, Avi Pazner, who said over the weekend that the letter was an almost “unprecedented demonstration of political and public American support for Israel and the initiative of the prime minister.”

According to Pazner, “the letter is a reaction of the Senate to the speech of Secretary of State Baker and the premier’s initiative.”

Israeli leaders were upset at Baker’s May 22 speech in Washington, in which, among other things, he urged the Jewish state to abandon ideas of territorial expansion.

In their letter, the senators warned that the United States “must be fully supportive, both in fact and in appearance,” if Shamir’s proposals are to receive “the consideration they deserve” by other parties to the Middle East conflict.

The lawmakers called the prime minister’s initiative “both sincere and far-reaching” and said the United States has “a vital role to play in convincing others of the merit of Israel’s plan.”

Pazner called the letter “an expression of deep congressional support for Israel. All those who have talked about erosion of public support for Israel in the United States will have to reassess their views,” he said.

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