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Latest Israeli, Palestinian outbreak closer to Baylor

Oct. 12, 2000



On Tuesday, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed to Israel and Palestine in an effort to stop what is said to be the worst outbreak of fighting in the last four years.

Annan has extended his stay in Israel and is currently holding peace talks with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Two weeks ago, the violence between the Israelis and Palestinians was sparked by the visit of controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon to a holy site in Jerusalem that is sacred to both Jews and Muslims. Since Sept. 28, almost 90 people have been killed, and all but five were Palestinians and Israeli Arabs.

John Anthony, a missionary to Israel and a permanent resident in the country, is on campus for Missions Emphasis Week. He said 'it is the worst it has ever been ... since the Six Days War in 1967.'

Anthony's son, a Baylor freshman, is also a permanent resident of Israel, and was friends with the three Israeli soldiers who were captured by the Shiite Muslim guerrillas of Hezbollah. The fate of these soldiers could have major effects on the peace process.

'Palestinian authorities should be able to secure [their] release ... to prevent retaliation rather than to further peace. The consequences would be enormous for Palestine,' Dr. William A. Mitchell, a political science professor who specializes in Middle Eastern Studies, said. 'Israel does what it says it will do -- and with overwhelming force.'

Annan is to discuss the kidnapping in Lebanon today to try to defuse the risk of Israeli retribution against Lebanon and Syria.

At sundown Monday, the deadline set by Barak for Palestinians to end the violence expired. Barak threatened that if Arafat failed to end the violence, Israel would no longer participate in the peace process, and Israel's military would use whatever force necessary to bring calm to the streets.

'If they stop the fighting and negative aggression on both sides, there is a good chance for continued peace and making progress,' Mitchell said.

'The real issue is over Jerusalem.'

On Sept. 13, Arafat stated he would declare Palestine a state with Jerusalem as its capital.

'They were to reach a decision on Palestine but passed the deadline ... Arafat had wanted Israel to comply in Madrid and Camp David,' Mitchell said.

Israel offered Palestinians 'pockets' of land, but 'Arafat wanted more of East Jerusalem,' Anthony said.

Anthony explained the issue as a matter of face. There is 'no such thing as one wins, one loses ... there can only be compromise,' he said. Anthony added that he does not think there is a man-made solution to this issue.

On the other hand, Mitchell said he 'believes both sides want to see a decision before President Bill Clinton's term expires. Palestine is uncomfortable with the idea of Joseph Lieberman as vice president.'

If a reasonable concession is given, Mitchell said he thinks the demonstrations on the streets could be stopped. Yet that concession would have to be Jerusalem, which was declared an international city by the United Nations in 1948. Both parties would have to agree with the United Nations that Jerusalem is an international city and allow it to be the capital for both Israel and Palestine,' Mitchell said.

The violence has ebbed over the past few days, partially because of the presence of high-profile mediators in Israel. Annan, Russian Prime Minister Igor Ivanov, European Union security chief Javier Solana and EU peace envoy Miguel Moratinos were shuttling between Jerusalem and Gaza. Late Wednesday, British Foreign Minister Robin Cook was expected to meet Barak. The U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, had his security clearance reinstated late Tuesday, allowing him to join the efforts toward peace.

Recently, Barak has appeared more receptive to a compromise, telling Israeli radio he would accept an inquiry 'under the authority and responsibility of the United States.' Initially, he said he would only consider submitting Israeli findings to the Americans for review. Israel has agreed to a summit with Arafat; however, Barak said the Palestinian leader must first publicly declare a termination to the clashes. Arafat will permit further discussions if Israel agrees to allow an international commission to investigate the events.

(This article was supplemented with reports from MSNBC, and The Associated Press)

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