- The Washington Times - Friday, October 12, 2001

JERUSALEM Israel expects to be targeted by Washington for a political offensive as soon as the United States has wound down its military attack on Afghanistan.
Israeli political sources said they believed the Bush administration was intending to revive and aggressively pursue a diplomatic initiative it had formulated before the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in New York and Washington.
That attack caused Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to postpone a speech he intended to deliver at the United Nations last month outlining Washington's proposal for resolving the Israel-Palestinian question.
Israeli sources said this proposal echoed that made by President Clinton in his last weeks in the White House, albeit in far less detail. It included the following central points:
Two states for two peoples. Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority accept this formula, although Palestinian Islamists demand destruction of Israel.
Jerusalem as the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state. This is demanded by the Palestinians but has been rejected in the past by Israel.
Recognition of the national character of each state. This is important to Israel since it appears to support its rejection of the return of millions of Palestinian refugees to Israel, which would negate the Jewish character of the state.
The Bush administration had intended at its outset to avoid the deep involvement in the Middle East that marked the Clinton administration.
Within a few months, however, it became clear that stability in the region would not be restored without American intervention.
America's current anti-terror campaign, whose targets are entirely Muslim, makes it even more imperative for Washington to placate the Muslim world by seeking to resolve the Palestinian issue.
Just yesterday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said at a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair that there would be "no safety on our planet" without a comprehensive solution to the conflict.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, hosting Jordan's King Abdullah II in Berlin, said the peace process "needs new momentum."
"The United States, the European Union, the United Nations and other forces active in the region must bring pressure to bear on the two parties," he said.
Fear that Washington might pursue Arab support at Israel's expense led Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week to publicly declare that Israel would not permit itself to become another Czechoslovakia, a reference to the concessions made to Nazi Germany by Great Britain in 1938, leading to the division of Czechoslovakia.
Mr. Sharon had to apologize after an angry reaction in Washington. Mr. Powell reiterated this week that the United States was a firm friend of Israel and never would endanger its interests.

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