Sat, 27 Jul 1996

Mubarak's U.S. visit

It is no surprise that the peace process tops the list of items on President Mubarak's agenda during his trip to Washington (next week).

In short, he will simply state those principles which (U.S. President Bill) Clinton should be committed to if he is indeed "an honest broker of peace", as the U.S. would have the world believe.

Clinton and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu can pledge their commitment to regional stability, but only their actions will prove whether they are truly interested in peacemaking or deal breaking.

For Clinton, such actions must begin by not allowing domestic electoral concerns to supersede the realization of a greater goal.

While Netanyahu may keep repeating that he seeks peace in exchange for security, the reality is that security is a product of peace, and peace is a product of compromise.

Netanyahu may have succeeded in stalling during his meeting with Clinton three weeks ago, but he has fooled no one. Stalling is a sure-fire way of guaranteeing that, for example, the economic stranglehold placed on the Palestinians will blow up in the face of Israel and the peace process as a whole.

Consequently, Clinton can ill afford to swallow Netanyahu's hollow promises hook, line and sinker any more than the Arabs can.

Instead of concluding a military aid package with Israel, it would be more prudent to impress upon the Israeli leader that once peace is realized, the need for arms stockpiling on a regional scale will be greatly minimized.

In such a light, Mubarak's trip to Washington -- coming after his meeting with the Israeli prime minister in Cairo last week -- aims to put the peace process back on track by allowing all parties involved to have an unfettered understanding of the role they must play.

Clinton must see his part through and Netanyahu must learn a few lines not laden with rhetoric and then act. Anything less amounts to nothing.

-- al-Ahram Weekly, Cairo