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Jerusalem Urged to Keep in Mind Clinton’s Concern for Human Rights

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An influential think tank here is cautioning the Israeli government to bear in mind the “extreme sensitivity” on human rights issues likely to be shown by the Clinton administration and to guide its policies in the administered territories accordingly.

Failure to understand American thinking helped mar relations between the Bush administration and the Likud government of Yitzhak Shamir, says a report issued by the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University.

If Israel’s Labor government wishes to avoid similar pitfalls in links with the incoming Clinton team, it must gain understanding of the principles guiding American foreign policy, say the authors of the report, headed by Jaffee Center’s director, Aharon Yariv, a former army chief of intelligence.

The report, titled “After the American Elections: Anticipating Changes in the Israel-U.S. Relationship,” also urges the government to consider a nuclear freeze within stringent parameters and to develop a new rationale for Israel’s strategic relationship with Washington.

If the United States insists on a nuclear freeze, Israel should insist that its deterrent capability not “degenerate” in the context of the balance of power in the region, say the report’s authors.

But, first, Jerusalem should encourage the Clinton administration to appreciate the regional imbalance that forces Israel to insist on retaining its qualitative edge “also in its nuclear dimension.”

With the end of the Cold War, Israel should look to the American-brokered peace process as the primary rationale for its strategic relationship with the United States, the analysts say.

The feeling in “various circles” in the American armed forces is that the goal of the close strategic ties with Israel is “less clear” now that the Soviet Union no longer poses a threat.

At the same time, the 1991 Persian Gulf War appears to have enhanced the role of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states.

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