Netanyahu faces US inquisition

Israeli leader to be grilled over Hebron and the West Bank settlements

Having weathered the squalls of the weekend Arab summit, Israel's new right-wing Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, now faces the more searching test of a first post-election visit by the United States Secretary of State, Warren Christopher.

American diplomats complain that Mr Netanyahu has not given the Clinton administration clear answers on the substance of his peace diplomacy.

"Peace is the most heartfelt desire of every citizen in Israel," the Prime Minister pledged on Sunday, "and it is the strategic choice of Israel." Mr Christopher wants him to put flesh on the rhetoric.

What, he is expected to ask Mr Netanyahu when they meet here today, is he going to do about Hebron, the last West Bank city still under occupation, which Israel was supposed to evacuate in March? Is he going to provoke the Palestinians by expanding West Bank settlements, as promised in the Likud election campaign and more guardedly in last week's coalition guidelines? And what sort of dialogue does Mr Netanyahu envisage with the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat?

An interview published yesterday in Newsweek suggests that the Prime Minister has not reconciled himself to embracing an old enemy some of the new Israeli ministers still dismiss as a "terrorist" and a "war criminal". Mr Netanyahu told the American news magazine he would meet Mr Arafat "if we come to the conclusion that a meeting with him is important and essential for the security of Israel".

The official reaction to Sunday's Arab summit communique, which called for withdrawal from all occupied territories and the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, was predictably combative - attack as the best form of defence.

"The peace process cannot be made hostage to any prior conditions," Mr Netanyahu retorted. "Peace talks have to be based on security for Israel and for all the peoples in the region. Preconditions that hinder security for Israel are incompatible with peace negotiations. For the quest for peace to continue, for it to achieve success and move forward, such preconditions must be removed."

The Foreign Minister, David Levy, denounced the Arab rulers for dictating terms that would be better left to the negotiating table. "We want a more moderate approach as a basis for the continuation of the process, which places rules and obligations on both sides," he said.

Israeli Middle East affairs commentators were more sanguine about the Cairo jamboree. "The communique was the best that could have been expected from the Israeli point of view," Dr Barry Rubin, of the Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies at Tel-Aviv's Bar-Ilan University, told the Independent. "It kept an open mind, it didn't foreclose any options.

"There was no call to freeze normalisation. Most importantly, the Arabs accepted the breakthrough which the peace process has made. Even with its criticisms, this summit established a new framework for Arab diplomacy. But the next summit will be more important from the point of view of setting policy."

Dr Avraham Sela, a Hebrew University expert, added that the communique made no new demands on Israel. "The demand to withdraw from the administered territories, including Eastern Jerusalem, is not new," he wrote in the Jerusalem Post. "But what was different was the underlying message, appealing to Israel to contribute its share to the peace process."

The influential Hebrew daily paper, Ha'aretz, highlighted Mr Arafat's summit statement: "The election results in Israel have created a new reality which cannot be ignored. Despite all the slogans and extreme declarations, we are still interested in negotiating with the elected government. We cannot agree to retreat from what has already been attained and agreed upon, as this would mean a return to the unknown whose results cannot be foreseen by anybody."

But the tabloid Yediot Ahar-onot underlined a passage in the communique warning Israel that any deviation from the principle of territory for peace would force the Arabs to re-examine the steps they would take.

The paper's veteran Arab affairs writer, Smadar Peri, noted a Machiavellian prediction from a Syrian spokesman: "We can allow ourselves to be moderate. Netanyahu will stick to the Likud's platform, will expand the settlements and will not withdraw from the Golan Heights. Then we shall convene for a new Arab summit and take much more interesting decisions."

The Israeli left is worried that he may be right. So, it seems, is President Bill Clinton's administration.

Suggested Topics
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Hourly Paid Teachers

£20 - £25 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curren...

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits