Delivers Ultimatum to Netanyahu
Substance of the Message: "The United States will publicly support the establishment of a Palestinian State, if Israel does not carry out the stages which it agreed to in the Oslo Agreement". The Prime Minister's Bureau: "It never happened"
The United States has warned Israel that it will publicly support the establishment of a Palestinian State, with the Jordan River as its Eastern border, if Israel does not carry out the three withdrawal stages which it agreed to in the Oslo agreement. This message was delivered yesterday by a senior official in the American administration.
According to the American source, the White House has delivered this ultimatum to Netanyahu's office, because of difficulties which have arisen in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In discussions which took place in Washington with Israeli Embassy staff, senior administration officials stated that 1997 was disastrous for the peace process and that during the month of December it will be necessary to make up for all that was not done in the previous 11 months.
The American source stated that senior officials in the United States Administration have reached the conclusion that Netanyahu does not intend to carry out Israel's commitments in the Oslo Agreement. The United States is attempting to formulate its own initiative, as it feels that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have reached an impasse. According to the view now taking hold in the United States, it will not be possible to reach a final settlement without the establishment of a Palestinian State.
The senior administration official stated that, despite the foregoing, if ultimately the Israelis and Palestinians can reach their own understandings, the United states will moderate its involvement and will not impose a solution.
A senior Israeli Embassy official in Washington expressed concern regarding a possible change in American policy and said: "In the past few days, Arab officials feel that they can expect something very significant as a result of this change in American policy, so they are convinced that if they wait and exert pressure they will receive more."
Shai Bazak, media adviser to the Prime Minister, denied that any ultimatum was received and stated: "It never happened". US involvement in the peace process gained further momentum with the appointment of Ned Walker as the new American Ambassador to Israel. Our correspondent, Alex Fishman, reported that Walker, due to begin his term in Israel on December 23, is thought to be a close associate of Madeleine Albright and a supporter of active American involvement in the political arena.
U.S. Pledges $470 Million for Palestinian Refugee Relief
United Nations -- The United States is donating $70 million to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) for its 1998 programs, according to an announcement made December 2.
Voicing the U.S. "strong support for UNRWA," U.S. delegate Allen Jury announced the U.S. contribution to the agency's regular budget during a pledging conference in the General Assembly.
The U.S. contribution "is specifically in support of UNRWA's core programs of education, health, and social services benefiting the approximately 3.4 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon," Jury said.
The conference raised pledges totaling $125,677,700, but UNRWA said that the amount is less than 40 percent of what the agency will need to maintain its regular education, health, relief and social services programs in 1998. UNRWA had a deficit of over $50 million in 1997.
The largest pledges were made by the United States, Sweden ($19 million), Norway ($14.2 million) and the Netherlands and Switzerland ($5.5 million each).
Jury said that UNRWA's ability to make "quick and demonstrable progress" in developing effective strategies for the future programs "will be one factor the U.S. will consider in deciding how much more money beyond the $70 million" Washington will be able to give UNRWA later in the year.
Following is the text of Jury's remarks:
Mr. Chairman, the United States welcomes the opportunity to again voice our strong support for UNRWA and to acknowledge the critical humanitarian role it plays on a daily basis in the lives of Palestinian refugees. We commend UNRWA as well for the important contribution it makes to the international community's ongoing efforts to find a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
I am therefore pleased today to announce a voluntary contribution from the United States of $70 million toward UNRWA's Regular Program Budget for 1998. This money is specifically in support of UNRWA's core programs of education, health and social services benefiting the approximately 3.4 million Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. As we have stressed at previous gatherings, the United States hopes that UNRWA will do all it can to ensure that, in this era of resource limitations, donor contributions are directed to the agency's highest priority activities, especially those which benefit the most vulnerable members of the refugee population.
It goes without saying that UNRWA continues to face serious financial and budgetary problems, problems which have resulted a now almost predictable cycle of crisis. As UNRWA's largest donor, the United States has a very real stake in ensuring that UNRWA address the problems it faces in a comprehensive and fair manner which ensures the agency's future financial stability. It serves neither donor, host government nor refugee interests to see UNRWA continue to experience the financial turmoil which, I am sad to say, has grown so familiar in recent years.
We recognize that breaking the cycle of crisis will not be easy, that divergent points of view inevitably will emerge, and that no one course of action will ever have unanimous support. Nevertheless, the United States believes firmly that very real and sustained progress must be made quickly or we will soon find ourselves in an even more difficult situation than we are now.
In our view, UNRWA's recurring financial crises are not solely the result of lack of adequate resources provided to the organization. UNRWA itself, in dialogue with its major supporters, should develop a stronger policy planning capacity that articulates an effective strategic vision for the future. Such a vision should inspire confidence among donors and host governments and align the agency's program priorities and implementation more closely to realistic projections of available resources. UNRWA's ability to make quick and demonstrable progress in developing such a vision will be one factor the U.S. will consider in deciding how much more money, beyond the $70 million announced today, it will be able to contribute to UNRWA later in the year.
The United States therefore welcomes Commissioner General Hansen's plan to establish a policy planning unit in UNRWA headquarters. We further welcome his interest, as expressed at the October UNRWA Advisory Committee meeting in Amman, in working with donors and host governments to further augment UNRWA's staff capacity to address long-term program and budget planning issues. The United States stands ready to provide an expert to further strengthen UNRWA's planning capacity. We urge the Commissioner-General to provide interested governments as soon as possible a comprehensive proposal as to what expert staff augmentation UNRWA would like so we can all work together cooperatively to try to meet your needs. Only by working together, speaking frankly, making honest evaluations of the choices and opportunities available to us, and, most importantly, taking action when action is needed, can we realistically expect to solve these very real problems which lie before us.
The Other Side of Pollard: Damage, Duplicity - and Justice
Even in the icy world of international espionage, it is still somewhat startling that "equal justice under law" is little more than a palsied proverb.
Consider these three cases of law and perfidy:
Why have these three been treated so differently? All we know is what we've seen. The U.S. Government - which expressed official outrage at Israel's "arrogance" and "ingratitude" in the Pollard case - has handled the Saudi-Schwartz situation with kid gloves and virtual silence. The Government of Israel - which for twelve years had claimed that Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but has now been forced by its own Supreme Court to acknowledge that he was formally and officially an agent of Lakam (an ultra-secret intelligence unit of the Ministry of Defense) - has sent back American spies with barely a slap on their wrists.
Why are these cases different? Because, we can reasonably surmise, of the causes being pursued.
With the Saudis, it's petro-politics: Oil among allies is a powerful balm for soothing the slights that come with the territory in the world of international intrigue and espionage. With the Israelis, a different standard is at work. There is ample reason to believe that Weinberger and his minions exploited Pollard for two purposes: to call into question the "dual loyalty" of American Jews, and to put Israel in its place as a strategic but beholden ally. Saudi Arabia's oil, after all, is much more marketable than Israel's democratic pragmatism; the Jewish State's chutzpah is somehow deemed more galling than that of the morally bankrupt House of Saud.
What's the difference between Amit and Schwartz on the one hand, and Pollard (the lone spy of the three who was caught out in the cold, and has been kept there) on the other?
Only that "equal justice under law" does not apply - nor does the damage done matter - when there are greater political "causes" to pursue.
Kenneth Lasson is a law professor at the University of Baltimore.
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