BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific Arabic Persian Pashto Turkish French

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Middle East  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Tuesday, 18 May, 1999, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
West greets Barak victory
Israeli Labour supporters celebrated well into Tuesday morning
The scale of Ehud Barak's landslide victory came as a surprise both to world leaders and to the contending parties themselves.

Israel Elections Special Report
Many are hailing it as the beginning of a new era for Israel and the Middle East peace process.

As jubilant Labour supporters celebrated into the night, messages of congratulations came in from leaders across the world, including US President Bill Clinton.

Clinton's congratulations

President Clinton said he had spoken to both Mr Barak and Mr Netanyahu by telephone as the results became clear and offered the new prime minister his "warmest congratulations."

Wye River talks
Mr Clinton is keen to kickstart last October's Wye River Agreement
Mr Clinton said he would continue to work for a lasting peace that strengthened Israel's security.

"I look forward to working closely with Ehud Barak and his new government as they strive to reach that goal with their Palestinian and Arab partners, " he said in a statement.

Both countries will be hoping the result marks a new beginning in relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which have been severely strained over the past three years, and Mr Barak will be keen to rebuild bridges with the White House.

Mr Netanyahu was widely seen in America as creating an immovable log-jam in progress towards peace with the Palestinians.

Ambitious agenda

Now all eyes are on Mr Barak
The BBC's US Affairs Analyst, Jonathan Marcus, says the White House has an ambitious agenda for its future relations with Israel.

Top priority is the full implementation of the Wye Agreement, resulting from last October's tortuous negotiations headed by Mr Clinton, that is supposed to extend Palestinian self-rule in the Occupied Territories.

Mr Clinton, who is due to hold talks with Jordan's King Abdullah on Tuesday, has said he wants the final deal wrapped up within 12 months.

But Washington also wants to see movement on the most contentious issues, such as the future of Jerusalem, and it wants to try to revive the Syrian track of the peace process.

Blair's 'admiration'

Congratulations have also come from the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who said he knew Mr Barak well and admired him hugely.

"We congratulate Mr Barak on his victory," said a spokesman for the UK Government in London. "We hope his government will make early moves towards full implementation of the Wye agreement."

French President Jaques Chirac said Mr Barak's win signalled "a hope for peace" in the region.

"I believe that, under your guidance, decisive progress will be achieved in the months to come in the direction of this peace that is so strongly desired," he wrote in a note to the Israeli Labour leader.

Also keen to get the peace process back on track, European Union envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos flew to Israel, less than 24 hours after polling closed, to evaluate prospects for breaking the deadlock.

It is thought likely that US envoy Dennis Ross will follow suit within a week.

Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres: "An unbelievable victory"
Yasser Arafat: I give my good wished to Mr Barak
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat: "We must not waste any time"
Former Finance Minister Meir Shitrit: "Sad and painful moment"
BBC US Affairs Analyst Jonathan Marcus: Washington's ambitious agenda
See also:

16 May 99 | Middle East
17 May 99 | Middle East
17 May 99 | Middle East
17 May 99 | Israel elections
17 May 99 | Israel elections
15 Jul 99 | Israel elections
17 May 99 | Middle East
11 Nov 99 | Israel elections
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Middle East stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Middle East stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |