Press Release
Department of Public Information · News Coverage Service · New York

1 June 1998


(Delayed in transmission.)

SANTIAGO, 26 May (Division for Palestinian Rights) -- The domestic political agendas of Israel and the United States, rather than long-term goals of a lasting peace, often mold policies towards the Middle East, according to analysts and speakers during a seminar on the question of Palestine in Santiago, Chile. The four-day meeting, being held from 26 to 29 May in Santiago, Chile, is exploring the role of Latin America and the Caribbean in promoting a comprehensive, fair and lasting solution to the question of Palestine through solidarity and assistance.

Dedi Zucker, member of the Knesset, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is more concerned with playing the "tough negotiator" towards winning re-election in two years than the peace talks themselves. "Netanyahu has mainly internal politics and not foreign policy in mind", Mr. Zucker during a panel on the political situation in the Middle East. While noting that relations between Israelis and Palestinians have "deteriorated on all levels", he said there was still some reason for hope. "There is still a nucleus, an embryo of something that is called the Palestinian state, and nothing has been strong enough or disastrous enough to create a miscarriage."

Richard Curtiss, Executive Editor of the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, said that United States President Bill Clinton is also too preoccupied with his political survival to apply serious pressure on Israel to comply with peace agreements. "Taking on Netanyahu would be more dangerous to Clinton's political health than turning away as the Israeli leader administers the coup de grâce to the land-for-peace process", he said.

Juan Abugattas, Peruvian Professor of Philosophy at the Universities of Lima and San Marcos, criticized the lack of a coherent policy by the United States towards the Middle East. "The problem with the United States is that it has not redefined its policy in the Middle East. What they have is a policy on the control of energy resources", he said. "By and large, they act on intuition and have no general strategy", added Mr. Abugattas, who has published and lectured extensively on the Palestinian question.

On a different theme, the need for positive action in favour of Palestine was stressed by Ahmed Soboh, Director-General for International Organizations, Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation of the Palestinian Authority. He called for nations to set up representative offices before the Palestinian Authority and make contributions of funds and other practical donations for the construction of Palestine. "Peace should translate into better schools, better hospitals, better jobs. When we have this, no one will have time to think about extremists", said Mr. Soboh. He also called for the boycott of goods produced in factories located in the Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. "It is a good start that some Europeans are beginning to say the settlements are illegal and, as such, their products are illegal."

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