- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2003

‘A very bad day’

Zalman Shoval started his Washington visit last week on what he called a “very bad day” for Israel. A Palestinian suicide bomber had just blown up a bus, killing 16 and wounding 70 in the latest cycle of Middle East bloodshed that is threatening the U.S.-backed peace initiative.

Mr. Shoval, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States and now foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, said the attacks by Hamas terrorists demonstrate the problem facing his country and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who pledged to support the “road map” for Middle East peace.

Hamas rejected the peace efforts only days after Mr. Abbas met with Mr. Bush and Mr. Sharon on June 4. Palestinian gunmen killed four Israeli soldiers on June 8. Israeli helicopter gun ships retaliated June 10. The next day, the suicide bomber boarded the bus. Israel retaliated immediately.

“This is a very bad day,” Mr. Shoval told Embassy Row in a telephone interview. “It shows what we are up against. It shows what the road map is up against. It shows what Abbas is up against.”

Mr. Shoval blamed Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for “trying to undermine” the peace efforts because the United States excluded him from the talks. He said Mr. Abbas’ challenge is to prove he is a willing peace partner by destroying the terrorist network in the Palestinian territories.

“He will have to act … or they will drown him,” Mr. Shoval said, referring to Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the Al Asqa Martyrs Brigade. “It is him or them.”

Mr. Shoval said his government will give Mr. Abbas time to assert his authority and has no illusion about the aide to Mr. Arafat.

“We will give him a chance. … We know he is no Mother Teresa,” he said, referring to Mr. Abbas’ background as a Holocaust denier.

Mr. Shoval defended Israel’s retaliatory raids.

“You cannot assuage the terrorists,” he said. “You have to fight them.”

Mr. Shoval, ambassador here from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000, met last week with officials at the National Security Council and the State Department.

India still targeted

The U.S. ambassador to India is blaming Pakistan for not stopping terrorists from infiltrating into India-controlled Kashmir.

“The terrorism emanating from Pakistan has not ended,” Ambassador Robert Blackwill told reporters in New Delhi last week.

He said President Bush is determined to put a stop to the attacks and could raise the issue when Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf visits Washington.

“The entire administration from the president down is determined to do everything we can to end terrorism against India,” he said.

Mr. Blackwill also said that if India decides to send troops to help stabilize Iraq, they will be under Indian command and not involved in combat.

Diplomatic traffic

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Today

• Bosnia-Herzegovina chairman of the Council of Ministers, Adnan Terzic, and foreign minister, Mladedn Ivanic.

• The Rev. Park Jong-hwa of the National Council of Churches in Korea, who participates in a forum on North and South Korean relations, sponsored by the National Council of Churches and Church World Service.

Tomorrow

• Ugur Ziyal, undersecretary of the Turkish Foreign Ministry, who discusses Turkey’s view on the future of Iraq in a briefing organized by the American Enterprise Institute.

Wednesday

• A delegation from the Open Society Institute, including Sabit Bagirov of Azerbaijan, Mikhail Chachkhunashvili of Georgia and Boris Navasardyan of Armenia. They address Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty on the prospects for political change in the Caucasus.

Thursday

• An opposition delegation from Venezuela, which includes Marcel Granier, president of RCTV; Gerver Torres, director of leadership and vision; Adolfo Tylhardat, former ambassador to the United Nations; oil industry specialist Luis Pacheco; and legal adviser Juan Manuel. They discuss the political crisis in Venezuela at a forum sponsored by the Inter-American Dialogue.

Friday

• Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who meets President Bush.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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