King Hussein says peace with Israel will prevail

30 November 1997 Web posted at: 02:51 GST, Dubai time (22:51 GMT)

AMMAN, Jordan (Reuters) - King Hussein of Jordan, opening the first parliamentary session since elections marred by an Islamist-led boycott, defended his troubled peace with Israel on Saturday and pledged tougher control of political parties.

Addressing a joint session of 80 elected deputies and 40 appointed senators, the king criticized Israel's government for damaging any prospects for reconciliation in the Middle East.

But he also accused Arab opponents of peace with the Jewish state of encouraging Israeli intransigence with their "worn out methods."

"Even if the peace process has stumbled recently as a result of stubbornness and obstinacy of the Israeli government, we trust the determination of the Israeli people to choose peace will in the end overcome the obstacles," the monarch said.

King Hussein made peace with Israel three years ago, promising a new era of shared prosperity between the two neighbors who had been in a formal state of war for 46 years.

But the peace soured in March when he openly accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of pushing the region towards bloodshed by failing to meet commitments to expand Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza.

Six months later Netanyahu sent Israeli agents to Amman on a botched assassination mission against the political chief of the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

The chill in Jordanian-Israeli relations matched the wider anger in the Arab world over stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and hostility towards Israel, particularly among opposition parties, has increased.

"In the case of Israel there is a need to distinguish between the Israeli government and the Israeli people, and to stop serving the current Israeli (government) position by following our worn out methods," King Hussein told parliament.

He did not name the targets of his criticism, but said it was time for some Arabs to "grow up" and to stop "defaming this side or that side."

Jordan, one of the few Arab states to attend an economic conference in Qatar alongside Israel two weeks ago, has forged ahead in joint projects with Israel despite political tensions and growing Arab condemnation of the Jewish state.

King Hussein told the deputies, victorious in elections boycotted by the influential Moslem Brotherhood and eight other opposition parties three weeks ago, that they reflected the "free will of the electorate."

The Brotherhood also declined any seats in the senate. It said its boycott was in protest at a steady erosion of parliamentary authority, culminating in tough amendments to Jordan's press law issued during a parliamentary recess in May.

The new parliament is expected to ratify the law, criticized by international rights groups who said it put freedom of expression under siege.

The law caused the suspension just weeks before the elections of a dozen weekly newspapers, many of them critics of the peace treaty with Israel and tough economic reform plans.

King Hussein said the amendments aimed to regulate a press which he said had been "tarnished recently by what could only be wished by its enemies and the enemies of Jordan."

He told the deputies, only five of whom campaigned under the banner of a recognized political party, that the government was preparing laws to "guarantee the good behavior and correct the practices" of political parties and unions.

Professional unions, many of them dominated by Islamists, have been the most prominent critics of Jordan's peace treaty with Israel. Without a significant parliamentary opposition they are expected to become an even greater focus for dissent.


King opens 13th Parliament
 



By a staff reporter

AMMAN - His Majesty King Hussein Saturday criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu's policies and blamed the stalemate in the Arab-Israeli peace process on the Israeli government's "obstinate and stubborn" stand.

In the Speech from the Throne at the opening session of the 13th Parliament, the King expressed hope that the determination and yearning of the peoples of the region for peace and stability will help push peace efforts in the right direction.

"The peace process has faltered recently as a result of the Israeli government's obstinacy and stubbornness," the King said before deputies, senators and ministers. "But we remain in firm belief that people's determination in the choice of peace will finally overcome all the obstacles until the entire region enjoys its dream of progress and prosperity."

The King, has over the past 18 months criticized Mr. Netanyahu's policies on more than one occasion, especially the prime minister's lack of commitment to the treaties and agreements that Israel signed with Jordan and the Palestinian National Authority.

The King however, stressed that a distinction should be made between the position of the Israeli government and that of the Israeli people and warned that the Arab countries "old and worn out ways" serve the current Israeli position.

"We stand to win or lose. Either way, victory or defeat will be our making," the King warned. "Peace is not just a Jordanian choice, but also the choice of all other parties. It is the choice of peoples as much as we hope it to be the choice of leaders," he added.

Jordan, therefore, is determined to pursue a durable, comprehensive and just peace that would lead to a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem.

"We have provided the Palestinian Authority with all the brotherly and sincere support throughout different times and stages," the King said. "We will continue to support our brothers, today and in the future, towards attaining the Palestinian people's legitimate rights and establishing their independent state on their national soil, with its capital in Jerusalem."

The King criticized what he termed as "the lack of truthfulness" among Arab countries and the continuous "exchange of insults and indictments" between them and called for a unified Arab stand to face challenges of the 21st century.

The King regretted that the Arab state of affairs was "not conducive to proper dealings and to building relations.

A division in Arab positions and a constant trade of accusations and insults between Arab countries followed the holding of the Fourth Middle East and North Africa Economic Summit in Doha, Qatar. Some Arab countries boycotted the summit because of lack of progress on the Arab-Israeli peace process while others decided to attend.

"The (Arab state of affairs) certainly, in light of the true Arab interest, lacks a way out of the circle of slander and vilification, and the patterns of accusations and condemnations. It also lacks logic, wisdom and the means to build friendships as well as positive and fruitful relations. At this moment of modern Arab history the situation requires all the cooperation and understanding," he said.

King Hussein voiced support and solidarity with the Iraqi people. "The suffering of the brotherly Iraqi people has been a source of deep agony to us and to many people around the world," the King said. "We stand with all our capabilities for the lifting of our people's suffering within the framework of maintaining and preserving the national territorial integrity of that brotherly country."


Jordan Times Newspaper

News

Kingdom will continue to back Palestinians' endeavors until they realize aspirations - King

NEW YORK (Petra) - His Majesty King Hussein said in a message addressed to the United Nations that "without peace there can be no room for progress and development and without the establishment of justice, peace will have no meaning and cannot last."

In his message to the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People on the eve of the world's observance of the International Day for Solidarity with the Palestinians to be held this year on Dec. l, the King said "our support for the Palestinian people to help them regain their rights will continue at all forums and on all levels."

"We support the Palestinians [in their quest] to regain their rights in their national homeland and will continue to back their endeavors until they realize their national aspirations," added the King.

"When our efforts to establish just and comprehensive peace in the Middle East achieved some success, we had expected with great hope and optimism to see the success leave some positive impact on the Palestinian people's problem and inalienable rights including the right to determining their fate on their national soil. But the months and the years went by without witnessing any change and, regrettably, the Palestinians' suffering and pain have been increasing and aggravated by the day," the King pointed out.

He said that the world community and the U.N. have a duty to help solve the Palestine problem until the Palestinians regain their legitimate rights.

The King pointed out that "the peoples of the Middle East region have suffered a great deal over past decades and they have wasted their resources and potentials because of the absence of peace."

"Now that the winds of peace have started to blow towards the Middle East, the world community is invited to support justice and what is right so that real peace can be established and prevail in the whole region," the King said.

The King expressed his appreciation of the world community's relentless efforts to help achieve the aspired goal of enabling the Palestinian people attain their full and inalienable rights including their right of determining their fate on their national soil.


SECOND WITHDRAWAL LAST BEFORE FINAL STATUS

Speaking to the Likud caucus, Prime Minister Netanyahu has warned that there will be no further discussion of territory after a second Israeli redeployment until the final status talks with the Palestinians. He said the Palestinian Authority would have to keep its commitment on fighting terrorism. "The burden of proof is now on the Palestinians" he said.

Coalition chairman Meir Shitrit shocked the meeting by supporting the establishment of a Palestinian state by the Likud. It's better a Palestinian state comes into being under the Likud rather than with Labor in power, he said.


QATAR VS. EGYPT; JORDAN WITH IRAN

The Qatar conference represented another blow to Egypt. Qatar's Foreign Minister even called Mubarak a liar and said that he "is incapable of leading the Arab world and should resign."

In the larger picture, it was a victory for the Islamic Gulf States over the Egypt-led Arab League. Iran and Iraq, whose influence was felt in the fact that the conference was not called off, even sent unofficial delegations under the guise of Jordanian businessmen.

This brings up the issue of Jordan-Iran relations, which are on the rise. King Hussein will apparently even visit Iran very soon, for the first time in many years, and will bring with him a message from Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Israel is in the process of assigning Jordan a larger mediating role between itself and Iran, at the expense of Russia, which Israel has accused of giving nuclear aid to Iran. {YEHOSHUA MEIRI 11/30 H}


PM CRITICIZES CLINTON

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has criticized US President Bill Clinton's inability to meet with him as a tactic that leaders should try to avoid. He told CNN that the refusal humiliated the entire country and not just him personally.

"No Prime Minister of Israel is humiliated personally, all insults are directed to the office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the entire Jewish state feels humiliated that such action is directed against us" he said.

White House spokesman Mike McCurry said no insult was intended. He said Clinton's schedule did not permit a meeting between the two leaders and a future date is being considered. {KOL ISRAEL 11/27 H}


M E R E D I T O R I A L:

America The Brutal, America The Ugly

Once again the American Empire prepares for "battle." It does so against a puny enemy; but one it vilifies and magnifies many times over endlessly "preparing" public opinion for the Empire's next round of "enforcement" in the name of "peace" and "order". It does so with technological super weaponry unmatchable by the poor, the weak, the oppressed...other than through what it terms "terrorism" that is.

This is the same country that slaughtered millions of Vietnamese (plus less directly millions of Cambodians and Laotians as well) after its President tricked its Congress into the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. And then a generation later its top warrior of the former day "apologized" for having made a "terrible mistake" (noting primarily the 50,000 Americans killed).

This is the same country that used the first nuclear weapons of mass destruction not on military targets, but on civilian cities. And now today, along with ally Israel, this is the same country that threatens to use them again in the Middle East, thus fueling the very arms race it claims to be halting.

This is the same country that sells more arms internationally than all others, yet insists on sanctions against those who sell a few inferior weapons to "unapproved" locations.

This is the same country that single-handedly, against the opposition of all others, dismisses U.N. Secretary-Generals; issues its "orders" > far and wide; and doesn't even pay its U.N. dues preferring threats and blackmail to gets its way. Amazing indeed that the rest of the world continues to allow this demeaning situation to continue; but bribery and threats always have gone a long way when Rome thunders.

And, finally for now, this is the same country that stands alone in the world championing Israeli militancy, camouflaging Israeli ethnic- cleansing policies, covering-up terrible Israeli attacks on U.N. safe- havens, constantly excusing Israeli gross violations of human rights against those who simply ask to be accorded the same rights that the Americans themselves constantly proclaim!

There are many menaces loose in today's world. Among them is the American military-industrial complex which dominates American society, manipulates its press, controls its political parties, frightens its intellectuals -- the very tyranny of power that none other than World War II hero turned President Dwight Eisenhower used his last breathes to warn so eloquently about.

Ah to be a Roman nearing the 21st Century! The Pro-consuls are now in the form of "client regimes" calling themselves Kings, Guardians, and even Presidents. Centurion legions are now in the form of giant aircraft carriers and stealth bombers roaming the planet at will, dropping their laser-guided smart-bombs on command. With the ever- present ears of the National Security Agency and eyes of the Central Intelligence Agency modern-day Rome tries to bug, manipulate, and control everything and everyone even while constantly proclaiming its own innocence, bravery and freedom.

Even the giant American press institutions fan the flames of warfare and deception is this brave new American order. Even its senior "journalists" - of late Sam Donaldson and George Stephanopoulos - openly join the generals advocating the assassination of foreign leaders and destruction of resisting societies. It's President and Secretary of State seem completely oblivious to the genocidal misery they reap on millions who will not bend to their will. And even most of its intellectuals and academics are cowered into submission while government-supported institutes and think-tanks, along with minions of masked agents of the empire, spread deception and chicanery far and wide to justify what has already been, and what is now to come.

The American-hyped road signs all proclaim "Peace Process" and "Democracy", "Freedom" and "Progress". But this U.S./Israeli-created road actually leads to more terrorism, more warfare, more armaments; more repression, more duplicity, more hatred; more exploitation, more domination, and more control.

The level of hypocrisy and the self-enrichment motivations are so omni-present these days that few within the Empire seem able to see clearly through their own society's thick rhetorical and bureaucratic smoke screens.

Yet no wonder there are so many around the rest of the world who now think so much about payback time.

MAB


IINS: news 30-Nov-97 , 1 Kislev 5758, at 21:24:48 Israel Time

Moslem Notables to Meet with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau

(IINS News Service -Israel-11/30)

According to the Chief Rabbinate's Spokesman, MK Talab El-Sana will lead a delegation of Moslem notables tomorrow, who will meet with Chief Rabbi Lau.

The Moslem leaders will meet with the rabbi to discuss how to advance joint Jewish-Islamic projects on the peace process and the state's relationship to the holy places of the two faiths.

The meeting will take place in the Office of the Rabbinate, in Jerusalem.


The Pope's in a Confessional, and Jews Are Listening

By CELESTINE BOHLEN

OME -- More than any other Pope in history, Pope John Paul II -- leader of the world's nearly 1 billion Roman Catholics -- has asked forgiveness for the sins, crimes and errors committed in the name of his faith.

He has apologized for the persecution of Protestants, for the crimes of the Crusaders; he has asked forgiveness for the abuses of Europe's colonial-era proselytizing around the world; he has voiced regret at the church's repression of Galileo and condemned its silence regarding Italy's own murderous Mafia.

But with only two years to go before Christianity closes the books on its first 2,000 years, the pope has yet to ask forgiveness of the Jews for the violence they have suffered over the centuries at the hands of the church, its followers and, in some cases, its leaders. Most particularly, he has yet to make a reckoning of what many have condemned as the silence of the Vatican during the systematic slaughter of Europe's Jews by the Nazis during World War II.

And it is this apology that weighs most heavily on the church. It was first promised in 1987 by the pope himself in a meeting with American Jewish leaders in Miami. It has been anticipated in apologies to the Jews by the Catholic bishops of Germany, Poland, Hungary and, most recently, France, for the failure of their local churches to oppose the Holocaust.

Many Jewish leaders see the long-awaited papal statement on the church, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust -- being prepared by the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with Judaism -- as the conclusive test of the willingness of the church to confront its share of guilt for the tragedy that befell the Jews.

"It is not so much an apology we are looking for, since this pope has many times expressed remorse for anti-Semitism," said Rabbi David Rosen, director of the Israel office of the Anti-Defamation League, the league's Vatican liaison. "But what could resolve the outstanding resentment which is still to be found among Jews is an honest reckoning of the actual role church leaders took during the period of the Holocaust, and to what extent this was impacted on by church teachings on Jews and Judaism.

"It is clear," he added, "that there are some in the Vatican who have reservations about how far it should go."

Some observers attribute the document's slow progress to resistance from Vatican diplomats concerned with the church's relations with the Arab world, and in particular with the status of an estimated 10 million Arab Christians, who feel caught in Arab-Israeli hostilities in the Middle East.

In the past, resistance from Arab Christian leaders has contributed to the Vatican's hesitancy first to recognize the state of Israel, and to improve relations with Jews generally.

Others detect a wish among church officials to put a stop to apologies altogether. "It makes no sense to judge completely diverse situations, three, four, five centuries after the fact," Giacomo Cardinal Biffi, the archbishop of Bologna, said recently.

No Catholic leader would deny that the church bears a historical burden of anti-Judaism -- a prejudice that, as the pope himself recently admitted, crept into interpretations of the New Testament, damning the Jews collectively as "Christ-killers." But in the minds of many Catholics, that doesn't mean the Catholic Church bears a responsibility for the Holocaust. They point to the distinction between anti-Judaism (a religious prejudice) and anti-Semitism (a racial prejudice); between the Church itself and its followers, and between the Church's failure to challenge the Nazis and a conclusion that it shares the Nazis' guilt.

Even the pope, in offhand remarks to reporters during a recent trip to Brazil, seemed almost annoyed by questions about the long-awaited document. "It is interesting that it is always the pope and the Catholic Church who ask for forgiveness while others remain silent," he said. In fact, the Protestant Church of the Rhineland, for one, in 1980 admitted the church's "co-responsibility and guilt" for the Holocaust.

Three years ago, the pope set the year 2000 as a deadline for what he calls the church's "examination of conscience." He has scheduled two theological symposia to examine its history -- the first on anti-Judaism, held last month, and one next year to study the Inquisition, the papal courts that at various points in history weeded out heretics with systematic brutality.

Most Vatican experts expect the pope to issue a pastoral letter sometime before the year 2000, in which he will atone for a range of sins including anti-Semitism. Some experts expect a separate document on the Holocaust, the one Jewish leaders have been awaiting for a decade.

"There will be an apology," said one Vatican observer. "The question is for what."

Many say the 77-year-old pope has already done everything but formally apologize to the Jews. Born and raised in southern Poland, where many of his friends were Jews, his commitment to the eradication of anti-Semitism in church ranks has been evident since he became pope in 1978.

In 1979, on a visit to the site of the Auschwitz death camp, he referred to the Holocaust as the "Golgotha of our century." In Rome in 1986, he became the first pope ever to visit a synagogue. Under him, diplomatic ties between the Vatican and Israel were finally established in 1994.

Some groundwork was laid earlier. At the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the church formally repudiated collective Jewish guilt for the crucifixion of Jesus, and condemned anti-Semitism. Since then, other documents have been issued, purging Catholic texts of such phrases as "perfidious Jews" (once part of the Good Friday liturgy) and pressing for more active Catholic contacts with Jewish communities.

"Today the Catholic church is not part of the problem, but part of the solution," Rosen said.

But for many Jews, the Vatican's failure to make a public accounting of its actions during World War II rankles the most. Its accusers see Pope Pius XII's general silence as evidence of the church's indifference to the fate of the Jews. His defenders say the pope, fearful of Nazi wrath against Catholics, deliberately kept his voice low, while encouraging and even directing efforts to save Jews.

John Paul has already signaled that he will not stand in judgment of Pope Pius XII. During a trip to Germany two years ago, one of his speeches contained a passage -- which he chose not to read aloud -- attacking Pius' critics. "Those who don't limit themselves to cheap polemics know very well what Pius XII thought about the Nazi regime, and how much he did to help the countless victims persecuted by that regime," the text said.

Last month, at the Vatican symposium on anti-Judaism, the pope provided another hint about how far he is likely to go on the Holocaust. His remarks were elaborately, even awkwardly, worded, reflecting the intellectual pains taken to produce them, and can be summed up as follows:

Certain strains of Christian thought, both wrong and unfair, fueled hostility toward the Jews. These erroneous interpretations of the New Testament, he said, played a role in numbing Christian consciences, to the point where many Christians, confronted with 20th century anti-Semitism, lost their moral bearings and failed to mount the spiritual resistance "expected of the disciples of Christ."

Thus, in the pope's view, it was not the church that promoted anti-Judaism, but wrong-headed Christian thinkers. Nor was anti-Judaism the incubator of the Nazis' anti-Semitism, which was a racist, not a religious, campaign. Finally, the moral failure of many Christians during the Holocaust was not one of active participation but of passivity (though the pope stressed that many Christians did oppose the Holocaust, at great risk).

Many Jewish leaders would prefer to see the pope concede a more direct link between anti-Judaism and the mentality that shaped the Holocaust. But most say the church's main task now is to continue to eradicate prejudice wherever it is found.

"The issue is to reach the conscience of the faithful, an effort which is under way," said Tullia Zevi, head of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities. "These things take time. We are a patient people, and the Church is a patient institution. We move in slow times. The issue is to move in the right direction."