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Pressure for Peace

November 26, 1997



Maybe it was Saddam Hussein's doing. His challenge to UN weapons inspectors pushed all the old anti-America buttons. And they still worked, largely because the US is widely perceived among Arab nations as a silent collaborator with Israel's Likud government in spiking the peace process.

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In any case, the Clinton administration is now exerting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to produce results at upcoming peace talks with Palestinians. In particular, Washington wants to see Israeli movement, at the December sessions, toward agreed-to redeployments in the West Bank.

That should mean turning over much more territory than the 2 percent previously offered by Mr. Netanyahu. For his part, Netanyahu is angling for an immediate move to final-status talks, but the Palestinians suspect this is a ploy to avoid compliance with the step-by-step process already signed - if only vaguely defined. A stronger commitment to stop terrorism will also be demanded. That's needed, but guarantees are elusive.

A measure of good faith, at least, is critical. Neither side sees this in the other at present. The US pressure for peace must continue.