- The Washington Times - Monday, August 28, 2000

Israeli's discomfort

Zalman Shoval, Israel's former ambassador to the United States, is uneasy about the future of his country and worries that the current rocky peace process could lead to another Arab-Israeli war.

He notes that Israelis are divided over whether the 1993 Oslo accords were a step toward a settlement with the Palestinians or another conflict.

"At this stage, it is still impossible to entirely discount either of these scenarios, and given the chasm between Palestinians' expectations and the limited scope for fulfilling all of them and taking into account the basic volatility of the Middle East there can be no guarantee anyway that any arrangement will be permanent or even long-lived," Mr. Shoval says in a speech prepared for delivery tomorrow at the B'nai B'rith convention here.

The Washington Times received an advance copy of his speech.

Mr. Shoval says he believes the Palestinians will declare a state.

He concludes that "it is probably inevitable … but surely not very desirable."

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has promised to declare a state on Sept. 13, regardless of whether he has a final peace accord with Israel.

"But what sort of state will it be?" Mr. Shoval asks.

"Well, if one is optimistic, one may hope that, in spite of the political culture of most of the neighboring countries, this [Palestinian] state will not turn out to be just another not very democratic and economically not very viable and transparent society.

"But there could also be a far worse scenario, namely the creation of another Middle East rogue state, perhaps coercively Islamic, anti-American, anti-Western, certainly anti-Israeli, possibly allying itself with similarly minded regimes in the region, as well as becoming a breeding ground for terrorism."

Mr. Shoval, who served two terms as ambassador here from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 until January, urges Israel to maintain its strength as it negotiates for peace.

"Maybe the day will come when the lion and the lamb will lie down together," he said, "but even then, I'd rather be the lion."

Preparing for the boss

Anne Patterson, the U.S. ambassador to Colombia, is busy attending to the last details for President Clinton's first visit to the war-torn South American country on Wednesday.

Mrs. Patterson is under double pressure as she prepares for the boss and finds her way around the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Bogota.

The newly arrived ambassador presented her diplomatic credentials to Colombian President Andres Pastrana only last week.

After the meeting at the presidential palace, Mrs. Patterson told reporters that she will work for the speedy delivery of $1.3 billion in U.S. aid for Plan Colombia, Mr. Pastrana's strategy to fight the country's vast cocaine and heroin trade and deal with Marxist guerrillas who profit from the drug smuggling.

She also tried to ease concerns of the leaders of neighboring countries who fear Plan Colombia will only exacerbate the civil war.

"I believe that fears of the effect [of the U.S. aid] on neighboring countries has been exaggerated a bit, but we are conscious of the fears of Colombia's neighbors and will do everything we can to help them," she said.

Mrs. Patterson is a former ambassador to El Salvador. She was deputy assistant secretary of state for Inter-American affairs from 1993 to 1996. She replaced Ambassador Curtis Kamman, who retired earlier this month.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Zalman Shoval, former Israeli ambassador to the United States, who holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club. He addresses the B'nai B'rith International Convention tomorrow.

Tomorrow

• Sen. Enrique Gomez Hurtado of Colombia, who addresses invited guests at the Heritage Foundation about U.S.-Colombian relations and President Clinton's upcoming visit to Colombia.

Wednesday

• Zhao Qizheng, China's minister of the State Council Information Office, who holds a 9 a.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss Chinese views of America.

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