The Israeli government will send a group of retired generals to the United States in upcoming weeks in an effort to bolster American Jewish and congressional support for the peace process.
The generals will devote most of their time to explaining security arrangements negotiated with the Palestinians to members of the Jewish community, some of whom “are not fully aware of the details of what’s going on and deserve to be briefed,” said an official at the Israeli Embassy, which is organizing the visit.
Eight retired Israeli generals who are supportive of the peace process will visit 15 cities as they crisscross the country.
The visit is time to coincide with the expected signing of an agreement between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization to expand Palestinian self- rule in the West Bank.
The White House is currently planning a Sept. 18 Rose Garden signing ceremony for Israeli and PLO officials, though reports from Eilat, where Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are striving to conclude the agreement, indicate that more time may be needed.
The visit of the generals comes at a critical time because Congress will be considering the renewal of legislation that allows U.S. funds to flow to the Palestinian Authority.
The measure, known as the Middle East Peace Facilitation Act, is due to expire at the end of the month.
The generals’ visit also comes on the heels of a similar showcase of hawkish Israeli reserve generals who recently came to Washington at the invitation of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. At a public forum here, the generals spend most of the time criticizing the peace process.
A June survey conducted by the Council for Peace and Security in Israel, an organization supportive of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin government’s approach to the peace process, shows that support for the peace process may indeed be a mainstream view among senior reserve officers.
Three-fourths of Israel’s reserve generals polled said Israel’s security needs could be “reasonably satisfied” if the return of the West Bank and Gaza occurred.