Clinton boosts Peres poll hopes

Middle East turmoil: PM's fortunes revive as US promises $100m to fight bombers and keep the peace process on course

ERIC SILVER

Jerusalem

President Bill Clinton is putting his money where his mouth is. During an emotional one-day visit to Israel, he announced yesterday that the United States was investing $100m (pounds 66m) to combat the Muslim fundamentalist terrorism that claimed 61 lives here in the past three weeks and threatened to undermine the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Following up Wednesday's summit in Egypt, the US and Israel are beginning negotiations on a bilateral anti-terror agreement. The Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, and John Deutsch, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, stayed behind to get the talks moving.

To counter sceptics in the Israeli opposition, who dismissed the summit as window-dressing designed to salvage the chances of Shimon Peres, the Prime Minister, in the May election, Mr Clinton told reporters he had already sent Congress an urgent request for the first instalment of the $100m.

The US, he said, would immediately begin providing Israel with additional equipment and training. They would join to develop new anti-terror methods and technologies and enhance communications and co-ordination with other governments.

Mr Clinton delivered a double message, one to the bombers, one to the Israeli people. "You will be tracked down," he warned Hamas. "You will be rooted out." And to the Israelis: "Just as America walks with you every step of the way for peace, we are resolved to walk with you until the day that Israel achieves peace with security."

Israeli commentators, soured by the conventional diplomat's passion for balance, have been bowled over by Mr Clinton's enthusiastic support. He even endorsed Mr Peres's closure, as a security measure, of the border between Israel and the Palestinian territories, which reduced Gaza to the point of starvation and kept emergency cases from hospital. A tongue- in-cheek headline in the Yediot Aharonot newspaper called him "the last Zionist".

Nahum Barnea, a columnist who lost a son in the 23 February Jerusalem bus bombing, acknowledged that Mr Clinton, like Mr Peres, was fighting an election and Jewish votes and Jewish campaign contributions counted. But he reminded readers the Clinton administration also had a stake in peace.

"The failure of the peace process is their failure; if terror threatens the continuation of peace, it must be combated. If a change of government would threaten the rest of the peace process, it is necessary to provide aid - cautiously - to the Peres government."

At his press conference yesterday Mr Clinton denied taking sides in Israel's domestic politics. To demonstrate even-handedness he met Binyamin Netanyahu, Mr Peres's right-wing challenger.

But the summit and the visit have undoubtedly boosted Mr Peres's prospects. The Labour leader was more relaxed and self-assured than he has been since the first suicide bombings sent his poll lead falling from 15 per cent to zero.

On Mount Herzi, above Jerusalem, Mr Clinton visited the graves of the bus-bomb victims, then stood hand-in-hand with Leah Rabin for a moment's silence at the tomb of the assassinated prime minister. He laid a wreath inscribed "Shalom Chaver" ("Goodbye Friend"), the valediction he delivered at Yitzhak Rabin's funeral in November and which became a national slogan.

On the road to Tel Aviv, the President spoke by mobile phone to two boys who were wounded in last week's bombing at the Dizengoff shopping centre. They told him from their hospital beds that Israel must persevere with the peace.

All in all, a good day's presidential work: for Mr Clinton, for Mr Peres, and just possibly for peace - so long as the suicide bombers can be kept at bay.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness