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>JN April 27, 2001, Vol. 9, No. 73
Bush, Sharon Discuss Mideast Crisis
By Deborah Tate (VOA-White House)
President Bush has telephoned Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
to discuss the situation in the Middle East. The call came as two
Israeli officials prepared to meet with members of the Bush
administration in Washington next week.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer says Bush and Sharon "discussed
ways of securing peace in the region." Fleischer would not
elaborate on the 10-minute call, which the president made from his
ranch outside Waco, Texas, or say whether the president reiterated
his call for the parties to exercise restraint.
As the spokesman put it, "Mr. Bush believes very strongly the only
way to secure a lasting peace in the Middle East is for the
violence first to stop. The president understands how difficult it
is to engage in securing an agreement while there is bloodshed in
Bush made the telephone call as Israel marked 53 years of
independence and as the Bush administration signaled it would
step up diplomacy in the region.
Secretary of State Colin Powell, testifying before Congress
Thursday, said the administration was working quietly behind the
scenes to try to curb the violence in the Middle East and revive
Toward that end, the White House announced that Bush would meet
with Israeli President Moshe Katsav at the White House on May 30.
Next week, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres will meet with
Powell and other U.S. officials.
Bush has already met with Sharon. But he has yet to invite
Palestinian Authority chief Yasir Arafat to the White House. The
president has put most of the responsibility for the violence on
Arafat, and has indicated he wants to see a reduction in the
bloodshed before a meeting with the Palestinian leader is
Earlier this week, Bush met with Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafiq
al-Hariri and assured him of his administration's commitment to the
peace process. Several Arab leaders had expressed concern the
United States was not engaged enough in the process, and feared
there could be greater violence in the region as a result. Bush
reiterated the United States would seek to "facilitate peace"
not "force peace."
Israelis Celebrate Under Tight Security
By Meredith Buel (VOA-Jerusalem)
Israelis celebrated Independence Day under tight security due to
continuing clashes with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Sharon
marked the day as Israelis marked the 53rd anniversary of the
founding of the Jewish state,
Medical officials in the Gaza Strip said a Palestinian farmer
working in a citrus grove was killed by gunfire from an Israeli
army position. An Israeli army statement said the man was shot as
he tried to cross the border. Health officials said another
Palestinian died in an Egyptian hospital of wounds sustained during
a clash with Israeli soldiers earlier this month.
The deaths came the day after an explosion killed four Palestinians
in Gaza. Palestinians blamed Israel for the blast. An Israeli army
spokeswoman denied any knowledge of the incident.
As Israelis celebrated Independence Day, the mood was dampened by
fears of terrorist attacks. Soldiers and police stood watch in
major cities, and many Israelis said they would avoid public
celebrations. Israel also tightened its blockade of the West Bank
and Gaza for the holiday.
Israel said the measure was needed for security reasons, but
Palestinians said it amounted to a collective punishment that was
strangling their fragile economy.
Palestinians call the birth of Israel their "Nakba," or
catastrophe, because hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled
their homes in the fighting that accompanied the creation of the
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres is expected to visit Cairo on
Sunday to discuss a joint Egyptian-Jordanian initiative designed to
reduce the violence and restart Israeli-Palestinian peace
Peres is then scheduled to travel to the United States for
meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell and other top
Palestinians are supporting the initiative, with cabinet minister
Nabil Sha'ath saying, "it might be a crack in the wall of
darkness." Israel says modifications are needed before the plan can
be used as a basis for negotiations. More than 485 people, mostly
Palestinians, have died since the wave of violence began last
Mama: "What do you think of Nazis?"
Papa: "They should all put their boots on backwards and get a
bloody nose when they walk into themselves."
During the early part of the Hitler regime, prior to the infamous
"Final Solution," German Jews taught their children to conform,
outwardly, to Nazi customs, for the sake of survival.
One such Jew was teaching his young son how to conduct himself when
eating in a restaurant where he might be observed by others. "When
saying the blessing," he reminded the youngster, "the correct form
of grace is 'Thank God and the Fuehrer.'"
"But suppose the Fuehrer dies?" queried the boy. "In that case, my
son,"the father explained, "you just thank God."
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