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Barak wants US out of 1999 peace talks { July 17 1999 }

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Saturday, July 17, 1999 Published at 17:41 GMT 18:41 UK
Arab press upbeat on peace hopes

Media in Arab countries have praised comments on the peace process made by new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak on his visit to the United States.

The Syrian newspaper Al-Thawrah said remarks made by the Israeli premier implied "a positive change in the Israeli political rhetoric towards peace".

This was in contrast to "the rhetoric that used to be saturated with hostility towards peace under the previous government of Netanyahu".

It called on a return to the politics of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

"The world has demanded that Israel takes into consideration all the agreements, understandings and pledges which were achieved by the Rabin government ... in order to enable Syria to move forward once again towards achieving its noble objective of establishing real peace that would end all forms of injustice, oppression and occupation," the paper said.

The Damascus-based daily expressed its hope that the Washington meetings between Mr Barak and US President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright will result in a new, practical position and a return to peace negotiations.

"The success of the Washington meetings will depend on the response and definite commitment of Israel to the principles and bases of peace and on the seriousness of the USA in making Israel move in this direction," it said.

"If it is really serious about achieving peace, this is the task that the new Israeli Government should undertake, especially since it ran in the elections and won in the name of peace. Will Barak clearly and frankly embark on this step?

"This is a question that Barak alone can answer."

Palestinian 'optimism'

The Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds also expressed optimism in Mr Barak's government.

"We hope that the ongoing moves and efforts to revive the peace process will soon achieve tangible results on the ground and materialize the atmosphere of optimism and the peace intentions of the Israeli prime minister," it said.

However, it expressed "surprise" in remarks made by Mr Barak to The Washington Post newspaper in which he called for the USA to reduce its involvement in the peace process from a major to a minor role.

"Given that Israel previously rejected the intervention of international legitimacy represented by the United Nations in the peace negotiations, and later rejected any effective European role in these negotiations while the USA has continued to play a major role since the peace process was unleashed at the Madrid conference, then what terms of reference can be resorted to in order to end the unsolvable differences between Israel and any of the Arab parties participating in the peace process?" Al-Quds asked.

The paper also called for Europe to play a greater political role in the peace process "conforming to its political and economic weight on the international scene as well as to its diversified relations with the countries in the region and to European material and political support for the peace process".

Saudi 'confidence'

Saudi newspaper Al-Jazirah said in an editorial that remarks made by Mr Barak in Egypt, before he left for the USA, were "bound to inspire a measure of the Arab confidence that was destroyed by his predecessor Binyamin Netanyahu as a result of his policies which were hostile to security, stability and peace, not only with the Arab states but also among the Israeli people".

"All the Arab states hope that in light of his promises and pledges, the new Israeli prime minister will correct the mistakes of the previous Israeli Government and - after taking time to study the situation - will begin to implement his pledges," it said.

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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