Creating a coalition able to make peace

Israel: Barak achieves broad-based government committed to reach accords with PLO, Syria.

July 04, 1999

EHUD Barak has created through tortuous negotiation a broad-based coalition to complete peace, reflecting the strong vote he received in Israel's May 17 election.

With 75 of the Knesset's 120 seats (only 26 from his own Labor Party and One Israel coalition) and additional votes on the back benches for a policy of accord, the Barak government will be impervious to the threat of any political party to hold peace hostage to its domestic agenda. It is a government that may be uncertain on economics and will have difficulty surviving discord on domestic social issues, but it can complete peace with the Palestinians and reach agreement with Syria.

The Palestinian Authority has responded cautiously but positively to the Barak government list. Syria's dictator, Hafez el Assad, has signaled a long overdue readiness to negotiate peace for land.

The government that General Barak will submit to the Knesset (or parliament) Wednesday will be expected to achieve in roughly a year what has eluded its predecessors for a half-century. The divisive issues within Israel, however, will require longer to resolve.

General Barak will confer with Arab and world statesmen and agreed Friday to meet Yasser Arafat, president of the Palestinian Authority, soon. He must decide beforehand some troublesome questions relating to settlements and their implications for Jerusalem's future.

Mr. Barak's goal is an accord that most Israelis approve and that will withstand any change in political fortunes in Israel. His stands on some sticking points, accordingly, may be hard for Arab negotiators to swallow.

The world community is pulling for this accord to be reached and for Israel to become permanently secure through the recognition and cooperation of its neighbors. Every party participating in the Barak government will have signed on to that principle.

Pub Date: 7/04/99

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