PM calls for panel to monitor Palestinian incitement to violence

By JAY BUSHINSKY

WASHINGTON (May 15) -- Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called yesterday for the creation of a tripartite committee to monitor Palestinian "incitement to violence."

The suggestion came as he and his aides sought a bridging formula that might eventually enable the IDF to withdraw from more than nine percent of the West Bank without immediately complying with the US recommendation that 13.1% be given up.

"The committee could include legislators from all three sides," Netanyahu said in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, indicating that it could consist of Israelis, Americans, and Palestinians.

Netanyahu's presentation of his ideas to the institute, and in a series of meetings on Capitol Hill, preceded his second round of talks with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, which started late last night.

Netanyahu confirmed yesterday that the depth of the IDF's third redeployment in the West Bank has been the overriding issue in his talks with Albright and the concurrent deliberations of the Israeli and American experts.

"We have to know how much more land will have to be given up in a third redeployment," Netanyahu said in his speech. "The issue is not how many slices [of land there will be], but the total amount."

Implicit in his remarks was the notion that there must be a finite end to the process of withdrawal in the West Bank and that the more territory to be relinquished in the third pullback, the less will be handed over in the pending second one.

This was also his approach in a series of meeting with legislators on Capitol Hill yesterday.

Netanyahu's first session there was with the powerful Senate House Committee on Foreign Policy, where he was warmly greeted by House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott. At his side on the dais was Likud MK Meir Sheetrit.

The address to the Washington Institute was studded with skillfully-composed metaphors and frequent rhetorical flourishes, all meant to convince his audience that security is the foremost consideration in working out a viable peace agreement.

He contended that the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan "are based on [the realization on the Arab side] that there is no credible war option."

Arguing that there is "a vital link between peace and security," Netanyahu said "a peace that is not secure will not endure."

He rejected the notion that normal relations with the neighboring states could be construed as compensation for risks that might be taken for the sake of an agreement.

"A cold peace is infinitely preferable to a hot war," he said. "Normalization is a bonus, but it is not the foundation of peace."

He expressed his government's willingness to abide by the Oslo Accords, but argued that "Oslo was meant to advance the peace without hurting security. We gave the Palestinians land [in return for their commitment] to fight terrorism. It failed."

Netanyahu recalled that 250 Israelis were killed due to terrorism after the Oslo Accords were signed, "because the Palestinians failed to crush the terrorism in their midst."

His concept of an anti-terrorism campaign included "public education" against hostility to Israel and the annulment of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Covenant.

PA Chairman Yasser Arafat's letter to US President Bill Clinton that the covenant's articles which contradict the Oslo Accords are invalid was deemed inadequate.

Instead, Netanyahu insisted that the Palestinian National Council meet and "tear it to bits."

Hillel Kuttler adds:

The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations sent a letter to Clinton asking for his reassurance that the US would "never second guess Israel on security matters" and to reiterate the US's position on a Palestinian state.

Recent statements by US officials have "created the perception of a shift in US policy on critical issues affecting relations with Israel," the letter said.

"We believe that you can put these concerns to rest by reaffirming the US's steadfast commitment to Israel, that has been the bulwark of the special relationship between our country and Israel," it said.

The letter acknowledged the administration's disavowals of US First Lady Hillary Clinton's support for a Palestinian state, but asked Clinton to inform Arafat that "any unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state would be a gross violation of the Oslo Accords and would not be recognized by the US."

© The Jerusalem Post


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