- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 5, 2001

Some of the nation's evangelicals are hoping their political capital with the White House can influence U.S. policy in the Middle East.
They are urging President Bush to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem because according to their interpretation of the Bible, the Holy Land belongs to the Jews.
They also have asked the State Department not to negotiate with the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
Their latest urgings came Monday when White House officials hosted a group of conservative evangelicals and their Jewish allies.
Memphis businessman Ed McAteer, a Southern Baptist who founded the Religious Roundtable and worked with Republican administrations to win the conservative religious vote, said the meeting focused on Mr. Bush's campaign pledge to move the embassy to Jerusalem.
"We're still on that particular issue," Mr. McAteer said in an interview. "The thrust of the meeting is that we are strong, pro-Israel people."
Congress passed a law in 1995 aimed at moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, but President Clinton used an escape clause allowing him to postpone the move on national security grounds. During the 2000 presidential campaign Mr. Bush promised to implement the law. However, in June he signed a waiver postponing any relocation for six months.
Christian leaders attending the White House meeting included Michael Little, president of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), and representatives of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem and the Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign.
They were joined by leaders of Americans for a Safe Israel (ASI) and Zionist Organizations of America. The "land for peace" slogan is what the Christian-Jewish alliance is most worried about, said Herbert Zweibon, chairman of ASI.
"Our problem today is, how do we turn the White House around so they don't side with the peacemakers and give up what is rightfully ours?" Mr. Zweibon said in a session before the meeting at the Old Executive Office Building.
The Israeli Embassy also hosted the group.
Mr. Little of CBN said that PLO leader Yassar Arafat was not a "legitimate negotiative partner," and that U.S. policy was driven by concern over Arab oil, not the Palestinian uprising or terrorism in Israel.
Speaking for the more conservative believers who support CBN, he said Christians will not abandon Israel just to lower the price of oil.
Mr. McAteer said the delegation, arranged less than two weeks ago, hoped to meet with State Department or National Security Council leaders but were hosted instead by the public liaison office.
The meeting followed a campaign by Mr. McAteer — backed by some Baptist leaders, Southern lawmakers, a few U.S. rabbis and the mayor of Jerusalem — to be nominated as U.S. ambassador to Israel.
For many years Mr. McAteer has organized a prayer breakfast in honor of Israel, traveled to that country frequently to promote church support and tourism, and helped organize grass-roots lobbying of Congress for aid to Israel.
His nomination, however, was a long shot, and on May 26 President Bush nominated career diplomat Daniel Kurtzer, an Orthodox Jew who had been doing diplomatic duty in Egypt, to be U.S. ambassador in Tel Aviv. The Senate confirmation hearing has not yet taken place.
"I'm no longer wishful along those lines," Mr. McAteer said. "My worry is that the new ambassador and the State Department will be more than pleased to negotiate with Yassar Arafat and trade land for peace."
To unhappy evangelicals, Mr. McAteer said, "I remind them that at least you can go in and talk," which did not happen in the Clinton administration.
* This story is based in part on wire service reports.

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