- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 27, 2000

Ivry discovers America

Israeli Ambassador David Ivry is impressed by the vastness of America.

The envoy, who arrived in Washington in January, is explaining Israel's quest for peace as he introduces himself to Jewish communities from Minnesota to Texas. He is also displaying a sense of humor.

"It is difficult for an Israeli to imagine a 'land of 10,000 lakes,' " he told an audience in Minnesota, referring to one of the state's nicknames.

"Israel only has one lake, and we call it a sea to make ourselves feel better about it."

In Texas this week, Mr. Ivry recalled a remark by Gov. George W. Bush, who addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington earlier this year.

"[He] spoke of the pre-1967 borders that left Israel nine miles wide at its narrowest point. He joked that in Texas, 'We have driveways longer than that,' " Mr. Ivry said.

He noted that Texas, at 262,000 square miles, is more than "25 times bigger than Israel."

"You probably have oil fields that are bigger than Israel," he said, speaking in the Texan capital, Austin. "In Israel, we have no oil to pump, no trees to harvest. What we do have is human resources, and we invest in them heavily. As you know, this strategy has produced incredible results."

Mr. Ivry said Israel, which attracted 80,000 engineers from the former Soviet Union in the last decade, now has a shortage of technicians because of the growth in its high-tech sector.

"Our economy and society have been transformed. Even our self-image has been altered," he said.

"Jewish mothers no longer urge their children to be doctors or lawyers. Forty percent of Israeli women today wish to see their children become hi-tech entrepreneurs.

"In a mere 52 years, Israel has risen from dirt roads to the information superhighway [and] turned the desert sand to silicon chips."

Regarding negotiations with the Palestinians, Mr. Ivry insisted, "We will never compromise the security of Israel."

"At Camp David, for the first time, it was agreed that Israel would not return to the 1967 borders; that a future Palestinian entity would be demilitarized; that no foreign army would be allowed west of the Jordan River; and, that refugees would not be allowed to return to Israel, except on a limited humanitarian basis," he said.

Mr. Ivry also criticized the Palestinians for rejecting an Israeli offer of limited autonomy in parts of East Jerusalem.

"The very essence of negotiations is the readiness to compromise," he said. "An attitude of all or nothing can have only one outcome for the Palestinians: nothing."

Ties with Bangladesh

The new U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh yesterday praised the South Asian nation's commitment to democracy as a "vital" link in diplomatic relations with Washington.

"The vital tie that binds the two nations is the strong commitment to maintaining and strengthening democracy," Ambassador Mary Ann Peters said as she presented her diplomatic credentials to Bangladeshi President Shahabuddin Ahmed.

"President Clinton stressed this tie during his historic visit to Bangladesh last March."

Mr. Ahmed noted, "Although, the path to democracy is arduous, there is no alternative to this form of government in this day and age."

Agence France-Presse reported that they also discussed the planned trip to Washington by Prime Minister Sheik Hasina Wajed, who is due to arrive here Oct. 15 for a three-day visit.

Warning Indonesia

The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia has urged the government to apprehend the killers of three U.N. relief workers and disband the roving militias that are terrorizing West Timor.

"Indonesia risks losing moral support if this issue is not addressed," Ambassador Robert Gelbard told an economic conference in the capital, Jakarta, this week.

"We and others in the international community stand ready to help."

The U.N. workers were hacked to death Sept. 6 by militias in the West Timor town of Atambua. Reports said Indonesian soldiers and police refused to stop the slaughter.

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