J E R U S A L E M, Oct. 10 - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi stepped into the
diplomatic breach today, trying to broker a way out of the nearly two
weeks of violence in the Middle East that has claimed more than 90 lives.
Annan has been attempting to forge diplomatic solutions on several
fronts in meetings with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak and other key figures in the region.
'It Takes Two to Tango'
After meeting with Barak in Jerusalem today, Annan said neither Israelis
nor Palestinians could claim either full blame for the violence or full
credit for their efforts to control it.
"It takes two to tango," he said. "Neither side can claim to have all
the right on their side or all the wrong on their side."
Palestinians have blamed Israel for the violence, which flared after
Israeli right-wing politician Ariel Sharon visited a Jerusalem holy site
revered by Muslims as Al-Haram al-Sharif, the Noble Sanctuary, and by Jews
as the Temple Mount.
Barak, on the other hand, has berated Arafat for not putting a stop
to the clashes.
Annan, who arrived in Israel on Monday has already met with Arafat,
expressed optimism today about prospects of ending the violence. "I got
the impression that Chairman Arafat is concerned about the level of
violence," Annan said. "He is concerned about the level of Palestinian
casualties." Most of the more than 90 people killed since Sept. 28 have
The U.N. chief is likely to fly to Lebanon on Wednesday for talks on
the fate of three Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerrillas last
week, diplomatic sources said.
Clinton Offers to Pitch In
World leaders are also watching to see whether President Clinton makes any
progress in his efforts to call an emergency summit of the leaders in
The Egyptian government had earlier said it opposed such a summit,
saying much more diplomatic groundwork had yet to be done. But White House
spokeswoman Nanda Chitre said today Clinton intended to press ahead with
Clinton's renewed commitment to finding a solution to end the
violence came after Israel indefinitely extended an ultimatum for
Palestinians to end the violence.
But despite the extension, Barak told ABCNEWS' Nightline his hope for
peace "at least for the near future, is fading away." (See related story,
Speaking at a joint news conference with Annan today, Barak said he
opposed a demand by Arafat for an international inquiry into the violence
but preferred a U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian investigative effort.
Violence Reaches Tel Aviv
But while the top-level shuttle diplomacy continues, the violence in the
region has adopted a different pattern over the past few days. There have
been more incidents of Israeli Jews clashing with Israeli Arabs.
In the seaside community of Bat Yam, just south of Tel Aviv, two
Israeli Arabs were stabbed overnight, according to Israel TV.
In Tel Aviv, hundreds of Jews smashed the windows of Arab cars and
burned tires. Chanting "Death to the Arabs," Jews set fire to three
Arab-owned apartments and smashed cars in a mixed neighborhood in Tel
The city's mayor asked residents to stay indoors. Violence of this
kind is uncommon in Tel Aviv.
The disturbing new trend came to a head Sunday night when Jewish
residents of Nazareth turned on Arab neighbors, sparking a melee in which
Israeli police killed two Arabs.
The Arabs in the city - who hold Israeli citizenship - turned to the
Israeli police, but the police also turned on the Arabs.
The rise of violence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs was a new
and extremely significant development, Judith Kipper, a Middle East expert
at the Center for Strategic International Studies told ABCNEWS.com.
"Israel has been seen as a Western-style democracy, but it is becoming a
tribal state with tribes fighting each other," she said. "When Israeli
citizens fight other citizens, you have a complete breakdown of civil
In the Palestinian areas, Israeli gunship helicopters were again in
action in Hebron, where 30,000 Palestinians and 450 Jewish settlers live
in an enclave in the city center. There was fierce fighting and
retaliation through the night.
Near Nablus, where American-born Hillel Lieberman was found dead over
the weekend, settlers descended on 10 Arab villages and stoned houses.
Palestinians ran out and lobbed stones back until the army stepped in to
separate the crowds.
To the north, Israeli soldiers remained vigilant along Israel's
border with Lebanon. The heightened security was a response to the
kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers from the border area by the
Lebanese-based group, Hezbollah.
A Hezbollah spokesman said today the group wanted Israel to free 19
Lebanese prisoners in return for information on the three soldiers.
A Palestinian Cabinet minister said he had sent Hezbollah a list of
Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in the hope they could be exchanged
for captured Israeli soldiers.
At his joint news conference with Annan today, Barak lashed out at
the Lebanese and Syrian governments, demanding they help secure the
release of the three Israeli soldiers.
"We of course reiterated the fact that we hold Syria as well as
Hezbollah and the Lebanese government - but Syria as the dominant player
in Lebanon - responsible for the overall quick resolution of this issue,"
Syria is the main power-broker in Lebanon, where it has 35,000 troops
deployed. It supports Hezbollah, whose fighters have effectively
controlled the border since Israeli forces withdrew from south Lebanon in
May after a 22-year occupation.
Barak reiterated his demand that the United Nations or Red Cross be
permitted immediate access to the captured soldiers.
ABCNEWS Nightline's Ted Koppel in Tel Aviv, ABCNEWS Radio's Linda Albin in
Jerusalem, ABCNEWS.com's Leela Jacinto in New York, The Associated Press
and Reuters contributed to this report.
U.S. Ambassador Gets Security Clearance Back
Martin Indyk, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, has had his security
clearance reinstated by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright,
allowing him to rejoin U.S. peacemaking efforts, a senior U.S.
official said today.
Albright took the action for national security reasons even
while an investigation continues, said the official, who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
The action means Indyk, who returned to Tel Aviv 10 days ago,
will again have access to classified information, the official said.
The alleged violations of tightened security measures were
never disclosed, except that administration officials said there was
no espionage involved.
There was no word when the investigation might be concluded,
but the official said the hope was that it would be as soon as
Albright had authorized suspending Indyk's clearance three
weeks ago, a move that closed a critical channel to Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Barak in the midst of difficult negotiations.
Apparently the first American ambassador stripped of his
security clearances, Indyk was denied access to classified documents
and even discussions with Barak and other Middle East figures. By
their nature, such conversations are considered classified.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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