US prepares to unfreeze dollars 10bn Israel loan deal

THE BUSH administration is hurrying to mend fences with Israel's new government. Although gaps and misunderstandings still exist on the awkward question of Jewish settlements, officials in Washington expect some kind of deal to be worked out in the next few weeks on the dollars 10bn ( pounds 5.3bn) in loan guarantees frozen by the US government last year.

The US Secretary of State, James Baker, arrives in Israel on Sunday for talks with the newly installed Labour government of Yitzhak Rabin. He will also visit Arab capitals to get the peace process going again.

President George Bush has invited Mr Rabin to visit him at his holiday home in Kennebunkport in Maine next month. This is a privilege offered only to world leaders with whom Mr Bush proposes to have a chatty, first-name relationship - a status denied to Mr Rabin's hardline predecessor, Yitzhak Shamir.

Having helped to achieve the result it wanted in the Israeli general election last month, the Bush administration is now driven partly by electoral considerations of its own. Progress in the US- sponsored Middle East peace talks would be a modestly useful feather in the President's cap as he seeks to contrast his international expertise with the inexperience of Bill Clinton and Ross Perot.

More significantly, it would dampen the anger in the US Jewish community, which had no particular love for the defeated Shamir government, but loathed the sight of a US government using the aid weapon against Israel for the first time. Although most Jews vote Democrat in any case, the strong anti-Bush mood in the Jewish community could be a significant mobilising - and fund- raising - force in key states like New York and California.

The loan guarantees, to underwrite the resettlement of Russian and Jewish immigrants, are an important factor in the Rabin government's attempts to shore up the Israeli economy. Washington has changed the precise wording of its conditions for releasing the loans on several occasions. But a sizeable gap still appears to exist between the US and the new Israeli government. The Bush administration wants Israel to freeze all new settlements on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 and 1973 wars. Mr Rabin says he will stop 'politically' motivated encroachments on Arab land but he supports 'enhanced' settlements necessary for 'security' reasons, around Jerusalem, in the Golan Heights and in the Jordan Valley.

Prospects for reopening the peace talks - due in Rome at a date still to be agreed - are also uncertain. Palestinian leaders have expressed disappointment at Mr Rabin's failure, in his opening statements as prime minister, to commit Israel to surrender occupied land as part of a peace deal.

In Tunis, Bassam Abu Sharif, a senior adviser to the PLO chairman, Yasser Arafat, complained that Mr Rabin failed to endorse UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which enshrine the land-for-peace principle. Mr Rabin did tell the Knesset on Monday night, however, that he would follow the 'principles' of the 1978 Camp David Accords, which were based on Resolution 242.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportSo, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Arts and Entertainment
Dennis speaks to his French teacher
tvThe Boy in the Dress, TV review
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
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
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The Plaza Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia was one of the 300 US cinemas screening
filmTim Walker settles down to watch the controversial gross-out satire
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Life and Style
Mark's crab tarts are just the right size
food + drinkMark Hix cooks up some snacks that pack a punch
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
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

Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant- NY- Investment Bank

Not specified: Selby Jennings: VP/SVP Credit Quant Top tier investment bank i...

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Day In a Page

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that? The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year

Aren’t you glad you didn’t say that?

The worst wince-and-look-away quotes of the year
Hollande's vanity project is on a high-speed track to the middle of nowhere

Vanity project on a high-speed track to nowhere

France’s TGV network has become mired in controversy
Sports Quiz of the Year

Sports Quiz of the Year

So, how closely were you paying attention during 2014?
Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry, his love of 'Bargain Hunt', and life as a llama farmer

Alexander Armstrong on insulting Mary Berry and his love of 'Bargain Hunt'

From Armstrong and Miller to Pointless
Sanchez helps Gunners hold on after Giroud's moment of madness

Sanchez helps Gunners hold on

Olivier Giroud's moment of madness nearly costs them
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect