Peres Praises Egypt and Morocco for Helping End Deportee Crisis

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is crediting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Hassan of Morocco with helping to resolve the diplomatic crisis caused, by the deportation of 415 Palestinians in December.

Peres praised the two leaders Sunday in an address here to the annual plenum of the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council. He spoke of Israel’s improving relations around the world, including the Arab world and the United Nations.

Egypt has been working closely with Israel and the United States to resolve the deportee crisis and get the stalled Arab-Israeli peace talks back on track.

Morocco’s involvement has been pivotal since Feb. 1, when the country’s ambassador to the United Nations assumed the rotating post of Security Council president.

Last Friday, the Security Council reached an informal understanding not to debate the deportations further.

This marked the failure of two weeks worth of Palestinian efforts to censure Israel further, and even impose sanctions, for its failure to comply with Security Council Resolution 799, which called for the immediate return of the deportees.

Instead, the Security Council has unofficially gone along with the American position that Israel is in compliance with the resolution if it adheres to a U.S.-brokered compromise. Under the deal, Israel is to allow 101 Palestinians to return immediately and the rest to come back by the end of the year.

While reaffirming the need to implement Resolution 799, the Security Council welcomed Israel’s decision to allow the return of the 101 deportees and urged all parties in the peace negotiations to redouble their efforts.

‘A CHANGING WORLD’

The Security Council position takes the issue off the table, clearing the air as U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher travels to the Middle East this week.

The position was conveyed in an informal meeting between the president of the Security Council, Moroccan Ambassador Ahmed Snoussi, and Israeli Ambassador Gad Yaacobi.

“The fight was closed,” Yaacobi told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Monday. Asked if the deportee crisis is resolved, he said, “Absolutely.”

Peres met last Thursday with Snoussi and U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, saying after the meeting that he felt they understood the need for the peace process to continue.

In his Washington address, Peres noted that Snoussi represents Morocco and that Boutros-Ghali was foreign minister of Egypt.

He cited this as an example of a “changing world,” saying that he went “from one to another to convince them that they have to help us to bring an end to the story of the deportees. And may I say, they did.”

The Israeli foreign minister placed this in the context of Israel’s improving relations with the United Nations and its members. He observed that Israel now has good relations with countries like China, Russia and India, who once were among Israel’s harshest critics.

Today, the “diplomatic globe of Israel now equals the geographic globe of the world,” Peres said. “Until rather recently, we were rejected and hated by almost half the world.”

He said Israel would like better relations with the Vatican and with Islam. “Our enemy is neither a people nor a religion,” he said. “Our enemy is the hostile state of mind.”

At the same time, Peres told his audience here that peace had its price that must be paid.

“Peace calls for compromise,” he said, “and we are ready to pay our share and have not just a general compromise, but a territorial compromise as well.”

“We do not want to dominate the Palestinians,” the foreign minister said. He added that Israel is ready to let the Palestinians “run their own life in their own environment, have a self-government” and “see them not just as neighbors, but happy neighbors and successful neighbors.”

He spoke of the urgency for a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. “We must be careful,” he warned, “not to create a Yugoslavia-like situation in our own country. We are very near it.”

(Contributing to this report was JTA correspondent Larry Yudelson at the United Nations.)

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