- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2006

American leadership

Former Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval is disappointed that much of the world fails to appreciate the vital leadership of the United States in the war against Islamic terrorism.

Mr. Shoval, on a Washington visit last week, applauded the “moral component” in U.S. foreign policy that is “sadly lacking in the policies of most other” nations.

“Though this isn’t always popular or even understood, including in parts of the United States, the threat that the free world faces from the Islamist fundamentalists would be immensely greater without the determined leadership of America,” he said.

Mr. Shoval criticized the Palestinians for electing a legislature dominated by the Hamas terrorist organization at a dinner hosted by Joseph Gildenhorn, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland from 1989 to 1993 and now chairman of the board of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

“Due to the Palestinian stance and the Hamas victory, I will not speak of the ‘peace process,’ which isn’t there, but about something which is very much there: the friendship between the U.S. and Israel,” he said.

“There are those on the extreme left or extreme right who want to see something nefarious in this special relationship, deliberately ignoring the commonality of values and heritages reinforced by the reality that America and Israel face the same enemies.”

Mr. Shoval, ambassador here from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000, also attended a Wilson Center forum that included three former foreign ministers from the region: Shlomo Ben-Ami of Israel, Ahmed Maher of Egypt and Marwan Muasher of Jordan.

Palestinian aid

Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon is praising Congress for considering bills in both houses to block financial aid to the Palestinian Authority until the Hamas-led legislature renounces violence against Israel and agrees to reopen peace talks.

“It is the consistent position of the state of Israel that all assistance to the Hamas-led Palestinian government be cut off, with the exception of necessary humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people,” he said.

“Any assertion that Israel’s position on aid to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority and humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian people is in conflict with the efforts of the [Bush] administration and Congress in this regard is entirely inaccurate.”

The House bill is due for a floor vote next week, while the Senate bill is being considered by the Foreign Relations Committee.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who introduced the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act in February, said Hamas legislators should be held responsible for the terrorists they support.

“There should be no distinction between those who carry out terrorist attacks and those who train them, finance them, give them safe haven or allow them to continue their terrorist activities,” said the Florida Republican, who chairs the House International Relations subcommittee on the Middle East and Central Asia.

The Senate bill, with the same name, is sponsored by Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

Principled stand’

The U.S. ambassador to Britain yesterday insisted that his embassy will continue to resist paying a daily charge on vehicles in London, claiming the fee is a tax from which foreign diplomats are exempt under international law.

“We need to take a principled stand,” Ambassador Robert Tuttle told the British Broadcasting Corp.

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has demanded that U.S. diplomats pay the daily fee imposed to reduce traffic on the clogged streets of the British capital. He says the U.S. Embassy owes more than $560,000 in back fees.

Meanwhile yesterday, Mr. Livingstone hosted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who offered cheap oil to the poor of Britain. In return, the mayor offered advice on traffic management.

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

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