- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 16, 2000

Peace through strength

Israeli Ambassador David Ivry, a former combat pilot and national security expert, is asking American Jews to trust him and Prime Minister Ehud Barak to safeguard Israel, as the Labor government pursues peace talks with Syria.

Mr. Ivry told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) that his government will do nothing to jeopardize Israeli security.

He reminded his audience Monday night that any deal reached with Syria will have to be approved by Israeli voters.

"The Israeli public bears the risks of war and peace, and it alone must weigh the outcome," he said. "As for the pro-Israel community in the United States, you can place your trust in the security credentials of Prime Minister Barak, Israel's most-decorated soldier.

"You can place your trust in the best judgment of Israel's security authorities, and, maybe some of you can also place your trust in my security credentials."

He promised AIPAC that Israel will only approve a peace treaty with Syria that "bolsters Israel's national security its strategic, military, economic and social strength."

"To this end, we must ensure that Israel's defense posture is such that rogue regimes will not even contemplate the thought of war," he added.

Mr. Ivry also called on the Clinton administration to send Congress a request for an "assistance package" to allow Israel to relocate soldiers and civilians from the occupied Golan Heights. Syria wants the strategic plateau returned as a price for peace, although negotiations remain deadlocked.

Mr. Ivry did not disclose the price tag for the assistance package, which has been estimated as high as $70 billion by the Israeli press.

"Once the package is presented by the administration to Congress, Israel will need all the help it can get," he said. "Let me make it absolutely clear.

"This assistance package is part of the deterrence Israel needs to ensure peace."

'Arrogant' ambassador

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Satterfield yesterday was the target of student protesters who called him "arrogant" and demanded he be expelled.

They also carried an effigy of Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, portraying her as a vampire with blood dripping from her mouth.

Mr. Satterfield, however, was never in danger. He sat safely in the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, while the noisy demonstrators marched in the southern port city of Sidon. Mrs. Albright was in Washington.

The demonstrators, estimated at no more than 300, shouted support for the Hezbollah guerrillas, whose attacks on Israel have brought Israeli reprisals.

They carried banners that read, "Expel the arrogant American ambassador" and "No to American spies. The American Embassy is an outpost of the Israeli spy service."

Israel launched an air blitz on Lebanese civilian targets last week following the killing of Israeli soldiers by the Hezbollah.

Meanwhile in Washington, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee was organizing a candlelight vigil outside the Israeli Embassy last night to protest the air raids.

Warning to Austria

The U.S. ambassador to Austria has returned to Vienna with a warning to the country's new coalition government that includes Joerg Haider's right-wing Freedom Party.

Ambassador Kathryn W. Hall said Washington remains "deeply concerned" about the Austrian government and that she will return to Washington "in a few weeks" to report to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright on how the government is performing.

"The United States remains deeply concerned about the Freedom Party's entry into the Austrian government," she said in a statement released yesterday.

"It is incumbent on all of us who cherish democracy, tolerance and respect for human rights to speak out whenever those values appear to be threatened. We have good reason to be concerned about the Freedom Party's commitment to those values."

Mrs. Hall expressed U.S. concerns on Monday in a meeting with Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel, whose Austrian People's Party is the senior partner in the coalition.

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