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Djerejian Tells American Jewish Group That U.S. Remains Committed to Talks

The United States wants to see the agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization implemented quickly and remains committed to moving the peace process forward on the other tracks, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Edward Djerejian told a visiting group of American Jewish activists this week.

“There has to be peace on all fronts for it (the process) to be sustained,” he told the 400 members of a United Jewish Appeal mission that had come here to show their solidarity with the victims of recent terrorist attacks.

But Djerejian declined to specify what the United States hopes to achieve during the visit to Syria this week by Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

“It’s too soon to make any prognosis about what may be in the offing,” he said.

After offering brief comments, Djerejian was peppered with questions from the UJA groups. Though prefaced by praise for the U.S. commitment to Israel, the questions were often sharp-edged.

In response, Djerejian stuck largely to formulas.

He said Jerusalem was “a final-status issue” for the parties to decide in direct negotiations.

He also denied that the United States was unfairly pressuring Israel to make concessions to a degree not expected from its Arab negotiating partners.

“As an active intermediary our whole purpose is to narrow the differences between the two parties,” he said. “That means both sides have to move.”

In the final analysis, he said, “the parties have to make the hard decisions themselves. There will be no imposed peace.”

Djerejian also rejected the assertion that the United States was pressing Israel, particularly on the Syrian track, to move faster than is reasonable or comfortable for the Israeli public.

Noting that the peace is two-and-a-half years old, he said, “I don’t think the peace process is moving forward at a speed that is in any way alarming.

“Obviously it needs public support,” he said, but added that that was the responsibility of Israeli leaders to cultivate.

In response to a question about recent agreements between the PLO and the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement to work together on the eve of Palestinian autonomy, Djerejian said it is “obvious” that “the PLO is preparing the groundwork for entering Gaza and Jericho,” the first enclaves of autonomy.

He said that he hoped the PLO would be able to control militant Palestinian groups and that all parties would opt for political rather than violent confrontations.

He said the United States would help the Palestinian police force to “exercise effective authority” to prevent violence in the areas falling under Palestinian autonomy.

The ambassador also said the United States was continuing to put pressure on PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to condemn explicitly terrorist acts “however and whenever they occur.”

The United States, he noted, was also pursuing all possible avenues to find information on Israelis missing in action since the 1982 War in Lebanon.

“We have this high on our agenda,” he said. “There are things going on now to pursue every trace” of the missing soldiers.

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