- The Washington Times - Monday, July 23, 2001

No accountability
One reason President Clinton's Middle East diplomacy collapsed was the failure to hold Palestinians and Israelis accountable for their actions, said former peace envoy Dennis Ross.
"We never held anybody to account," Mr. Ross told an audience of Washington interns at a forum sponsored by Middle East Insight last week.
Mr. Ross, who worked feverishly throughout the Clinton presidency as chief U.S. envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian talks, said the U.S. side always believed it could find a way around any problem.
"We always thought in this process that one side's difficulty was such that you could finesse it," he said. "One side's problem was such that we'd find a way around it."
Mr. Ross urges the Bush administration to avoid those mistakes and make both sides comply with the current cease-fire, which is violated so often that it has become what he calls a "war of attrition."
"If we were, on a daily basis, to make it clear that we are going to evaluate who was living up to that cease-fire agreement and who was not, and if we were to make it clear at a certain point we would go public and say who is deferring their obligations and who is not, I think that would create the greatest single pressure on both sides to fulfill commitments that they have made … but have not carried out," he said.
Mr. Ross expressed disappointment in Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat for rejecting Mr. Clinton's proposal at Camp David.
"It was the best we were going to do," he said. "We made it clear we couldn't do better."
Palestinians would have received an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of Palestinian refugees to return to the new state, but not to Israel.
He blamed Mr. Arafat for failing to prepare the Palestinian public for peace.
"It isn't good enough for Chairman Arafat to wear a 'Seeds of Peace' lapel pin … and then allow summer camps to take place where kids were taught to kidnap Israelis," Mr. Ross said.
He held little hope of any immediate end to the daily violence.
"There's a loss of belief. There's a loss of faith," he said. "Neither Palestinians nor Israelis today believe that peace is a real possibility or that, through negotiations, they will find a way to resolve their problems."

Arrival in China
Clark Randt, the new U.S. ambassador to China, is due to arrive in Beijing today and will immediately take up the case of Chinese-born American scholars accused of espionage.
Mr. Randt met last week in Washington with the husband of one of the scholars, sociologist Gao Zhan, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing told reporters Friday. Her trial is to begin tomorrow, say other reports.
"Ambassador Randt … affirmed the U.S. government's strong interest that this case be resolved as soon as possible," an embassy official told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Mr. Randt also will review preparations for a visit by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who is scheduled to travel to Beijing on Saturday.
The embassy said Mr. Randt also will monitor the expected release of Li Shaoming, who was convicted of espionage last week and is due to be deported from China.
He is one five Chinese-born American scholars who have been arrested in China this year.
"The release of these people is a matter of common sense, as the less tension in the relationship the better," one diplomat told AFP.
Mr. Randt, who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, is a college friend of President Bush and was a fund-raiser for his presidential campaign.
The 55-year-old ambassador, a former partner of a U.S. law firm in Hong Kong, replaces retired Adm. Joseph Prueher.

Diplomatic traffic
Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:
Leoluca Orlando, former mayor of Palermo, Sicily, and current president of the Sicilian Renaissance Institute. He holds a noon news conference at the National Press Club to discuss the fight against organized crime.
Patriarch Pavle, leader of the Serbian Orthodox Church, who will bless the Yugoslav Embassy, which has reopened under a democratic government.

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