'A Model Peace, a Warm Peace' Mideast progress: King Hussein visits Israel to show how it is done.

January 13, 1996

WITH PALESTINIAN elections Jan. 20 and talks with Syria expected to resume two days later, Israel needed to demonstrate the blessings of peace, and did.

Israel's release of some 800 Palestinian prisoners from Hamas and other groups opposing the peace process, on their pledge to refrain from violence, went a long way to meet the goal of 1,200 before the Palestinian election. The sheer joy of their families at their release is what PLO leader Yasser Arafat needs, even if many oppose him, to demonstrate the benefits of his peace with Israel.

This is all the more necessary to reverse the momentum caused by the assassination in Gaza of the terrorist bomb-maker, Yehiya Ayyash, which is widely credited to Israeli intelligence. It is no surprise that Israel would hunt down "The Engineer" who master-minded bombings in Israel. But the spontaneous demonstrations in Gaza against peace and in honor of Ayyash, )) by Palestinians who never heard of him except as someone who killed Israelis, were alarming. The emotional momentum had to be pushed the other way.

More important as a symbol was the hospitality in Tel Aviv for Jordan's King Hussein and 12 members of Jordan's parliament. With Secretary of State Warren Christopher beaming approval, Prime Minister Shimon Peres praised the king for "a model peace, a warm peace." That means economic cooperation, reciprocal tourism and expressions of friendship, not merely the absence of war.

A model for whom? President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, for one. Facing unpopularity and the extremist opposition, he has cooled relations with Israel. They are correct, but hardly warm. The closer neighbor, Hussein, is rewarded for not emulating that reserve. And Hussein is held up as a model to Mr. Arafat, who is expected to form a legitimate Palestinian government after the elections. Cooperation in economic development, water and security among Israel, Jordan and Palestine was implicit in Israel's peace with the PLO.

But above all, Israel is holding King Hussein up as a model to Syria's Hafez el Assad, who is conferring with Mr. Christopher this weekend. The Israelis want the talks resuming at the Wye Plantation on the Eastern Shore Jan. 22 to be broadened with military experts and to focus on "security, water and economics." Israel knows what it must give up for peace with Syria: all of the Golan Heights. But with King Hussein's visit, Israel shows what it would expect in return: "a model peace, a warm peace."

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