Israel needs to make peace, Peres warns in D.C. speech

February 15, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told U.S. Jewish leaders yesterday that Israel must make peace with the Palestinians or face in the future a "Yugoslav-like situation in our own country" that could endanger the existence of the Jewish state.

Beginning the first visit to Washington by a senior Israeli official since the U.S. elections, Mr. Peres also said that Israel's new Labor-led government was "extremely confident" that it would be able to forge a close working partnership with the Clinton administration to bring about peace in the Middle East.

Mr. Peres, who will be seeing Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher and other administration officials tomorrow, broke no new ground in what had been billed beforehand as a "major policy address" before the National Jewish Community Relations Advisory Council.

But it was clear from the conciliatory and hopeful tenor of his remarks that Mr. Peres was seeking to establish at the outset of his visit a new footing for U.S.-Israeli relations strained in the past by the Bush administration's differences with Labor's right-wing Likud predecessors.

Efforts to ease those strains were delayed by the prolonged crisis that erupted in the wake of Israel's expulsion of more than 400 Palestinians to southern Lebanon in December.

Israeli officials said that they hoped the crisis had finally been defused with the United Nations Security Council's endorsement Friday of a U.S.-brokered compromise under which the deportees will be allowed to return in the next 12 months.

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