- The Washington Times - Friday, October 20, 2000

Israel's battle against the Palestinian uprising has put the United States and Israel at odds with the Arab League, which meets this weekend in Cairo, and other Muslim and Third World nations at the United Nations.

After Israeli firepower killed more than 100 rock-throwing youths in three weeks, and the United States refused to join in condemning Israel, a new wave of anti-Western outbursts have spread across the Third World.

In what resembles a return to the Cold War politics of the 1970s, when the United States and Israel were called imperialist bullies at the United Nations, the United States may face a new period of isolation as well as terrorist attacks and even a new oil embargo.

"Concerns about the potential for political difficulties to impinge on available [oil] supplies persist as has been evident over the past few weeks," Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said yesterday, in a reference to Middle East turmoil.

America is vulnerable to an oil squeeze, he said. For example, any shutdown by Iraq of its daily 2.5 million to 3 million barrels of oil "has the potential to alter the forces governing economic growth in the United States."

Aside from the oil threat, the Clinton administration has seen its boast that America is the only superpower and "the indispensable nation" trampled on as crowds in pro-Western countries from Morocco to Indonesia burned U.S. and Israeli flags side by side in recent weeks.

The State Department briefly closed 37 embassies and consulates in 23 countries to avoid demonstrations and possibly terrorism fueled by the Palestinian-Israeli violence since Sept. 28.

The terrorist attack Oct. 12 on the USS Cole in Yemen, which left 17 sailors dead, may have been linked to the general anti-U.S. passions unleashed by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Today, the U.N. General Assembly takes up a motion condemning Israel that likely will leave Israel and the United States isolated in opposition.

Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Lee Hamilton said yesterday that the Middle East conflict is intensifying anti-American resentment, raising threats to U.S. interests.

"There is a clear picture in the Arab world that the United States is tilted strongly toward Israel and not sufficiently sympathetic to [the Arabs]," he said.

Leaders of Arab states meeting tomorrow in Cairo are under great pressure to show their own people that they back Palestinian Arabs as strongly as the Arab world believes the United States backs Israel.

The violence also has raised fears of a freeze on Israel's diplomatic and trade ties to other countries as well as diplomatic pressure on the United States.

The sultanate of Oman already has suspended an office it set up in Tel Aviv, and Israeli diplomats say they have been told by counterparts in Qatar, Morocco and Tunisia that there is pressure to close those countries' offices as well.

"Israel would certainly regret the closing of any representative offices, especially now," said Mark Regev, spokesman for the Israeli Embassy.

The cease-fire agreement reached at an emergency summit Monday and Tuesday at Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, was expected to undercut the most radical Arab cries at the Cairo summit.

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi already has denounced a draft of the document for being too soft.

Some Arab foreign ministers called yesterday for cutting off all diplomatic relations with Israel, blockading the country and cutting of all the contacts painfully built up since 1979.

Lebanese Prime Minister Selim Hoss called on the Arabs to cut all ties with Israel until it agrees to return the Golan Heights to Syria.

But leaders of pro-Western Arab states such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia where Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright visited Tuesday, are working to restrain calls for an all-out war against Israel.

"There is a group that demands concrete measures [against Israel] and another camp that wants to give the peace process another chance and just end the summit with a warning," a senior Arab League official said.

Palestinian official Nabil Shaath said the Arab summit would offer political and economic backing to the Palestinians.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told state television that Arab leaders would try to restart peacemaking with Israel.

"A declaration of war is not a game," he said. "Issues are only resolved through negotiations and international pressure."

• David R. Sands contributed to this article.

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