- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 27, 2003

Warning to Slovakia

Members of a congressional human rights commission are upset with the response of the Slovak government to reports about forced sterilization of Gypsy women.

Claims by Deputy Prime Minister Pal Csaky that no such operations have taken place “ring hollow” because a Slovak government investigation found that women, including minors, were “in fact sterilized without consent,” they said in a letter this week to Prime Minister Mikulas Dzurinda.

In March, the prime minister, responding to an earlier letter from the commission, promised a full investigation into reports about abuse of Gypsy, or Romani, women.

“Unfortunately, we believe that there were significant deficiencies in the Slovak government’s recently concluded investigation into this matter,” they said.

“Conflicts of interest were not adequately addressed. Human rights activists and possible victims were threatened with criminal charges for speaking out. Investigators failed to evaluate whether consent, when given, was informed, and some Romani women and their lawyers were blocked from accessing their own medical records.”

The letter from the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe was signed by the Republican co-chairmen, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and Rep. Christopher H. Smith of New Jersey. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, and five other House members also signed the letter.

Mideast peace poll

A majority of Israelis and Palestinians would support a peace plan that would divide Jerusalem to serve as the capital of a new Palestinian state and guarantee access to Christian, Jewish and Islamic holy sites, a poll shows.

“At such a difficult and painful times for Israelis and Palestinians, this poll is a timely reminder of the fact that majorities of both sides are prepared to embrace an agreement that meets their respective core aspirations and interests,” said former Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian, founding director of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.

The Baker Institute and the International Crisis Group (ICG) sponsored the poll, which found that 53.3 percent of Israelis and 55.6 percent of Palestinians would support a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders.

Nearly 44 percent of Israelis and 38.5 percent of Palestinians opposed the proposal. The poll of 610 Israelis and 631 Palestinians had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

The survey gauged support for a plan that would establish a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, except for a few Jewish settlements close to the Israeli border. Palestine would get the equivalent amount of Israeli land to compensate for the settlements.

The Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem would become the capital of Palestine, and the Jewish neighborhoods in East and West Jerusalem would be the capital of Israel, which currently claims the entire city as its capital.

Palestinian refugees would have the right to migrate to Palestine with rehabilitation assistance and compensation for “property lost and for harm incurred” because of their refugee status.

Both states would establish full diplomatic relations under the proposal, and each side would govern its own holy sites.

A U.S.-led multinational force would guarantee security and ensure the implementation of the plan.

Robert Malley, ICG’s Middle East program director, said the plan could be the basis for a political settlement if Israeli and Palestinian leaders embrace it.

“It is the responsibility of Israeli and Palestinian political leaders and of the international community to devise appropriate mechanisms to translate what is the clear popular aspiration of both sides into a political agreement,” he said.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]

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