- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Porcupine love

Former Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval can grab a metaphor and make it ring, as he did yesterday in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

He told Embassy Row that he was asked how Israel will disengage from the Gaza Strip, given the pressures from Israelis who do not want to move and Palestinian terrorists who might take advantage of the withdrawal.

“I said I was reminded of the old joke about how do porcupines make love. Very carefully,” he said.

Mr. Shoval, now a foreign policy adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, outlined two possibilities that could come from an Israeli disengagement from Gaza.

“The optimistic view is that everything works out well with very little violence and with international aid to the Gaza Strip, leading to a civil society and the rule of law,” he said. “That could set an example for Palestinians on the West Bank.

“The pessimistic view is some on the Palestinian side will see this as an opportunity to renew violence. It’s too early to say which will happen.”

Mr. Shoval said the Israeli government so far is disappointed with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

“He has not yet dismantled the terrorist infrastructure. He may have a problem. I cannot say whether he is unable or unwilling,” Mr. Shoval said.

The failure to disarm the Hamas terrorist group could create a major threat against Mr. Abbas’ government after an Israeli withdrawal.

“We hope they will avoid a Lebanon scenario,” Mr. Shoval said, referring to Lebanon’s long civil war in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr. Shoval said his government hopes the “international community will really engage the Palestinians and that the Palestinian leadership becomes less corrupt than the previous one and the aid goes to create jobs and build infrastructures.”

Mr. Shoval served as ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000. He is head of the Likud Party’s foreign relations committee and president of the Israel-American Chamber of Commerce.

Mourning Weizman

The Israeli Embassy yesterday opened a book of condolences for former Israeli President Ezer Weizman, who died Sunday at age 80. He was the seventh president of the Jewish state.

The condolence book will also be open today from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and tomorrow from noon to 5 p.m. at the embassy at 3514 International Drive NW.

Mr. Weizman served as president from 1993 to 2000.

Defending Bolton

More than 40 public policy experts who served with John Bolton at the American Enterprise Institute are shocked at the “preposterous” accusations by critics who oppose his nomination to serve as ambassador to the United Nations.

“Contrary to the portrayals of his accusers, he combines a temperate disposition, good spirit and utter honesty with his well-known attributes of exceptional intelligence and intensity of purpose,” they said in a letter to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican, and Delaware Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, the ranking committee Democrat.

They said that “the idea that he would seek to punish or settle scores with those who disagreed with him seems particularly preposterous to us.”

They described Mr. Bolton’s style as “clear and consistent” during his tenure as the think tank’s senior vice president from 1997 to 2001.

“He would state his own views openly and directly, expect others to be equally open and direct and go out of his way to encourage subordinates to be open and direct, all in the service of arriving at the best possible decision,” they said.

The signers of the letter included former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, and Richard Perle, an assistant secretary of defense under President Reagan.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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