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Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 16:45 GMT
Israeli press wary of Clinton plan
Israeli Prime Minsiter Ehud Barak
Many of the papers question Barak's motives in the talks
Several Israeli papers have responded sceptically to reports of US President Bill Clinton's proposals for a Middle East peace plan.

The liberal Haaretz said that the decision on whether or not to accept the current package of proposals was one of the most difficult ever faced by the Israeli leadership, and that winning the acceptance of the Israeli people as a whole involved overcoming profound psychological hurdles.

Acceptance of the plan - which reportedly requires that Israel concedes sovereignty over much of East Jerusalem - would mean "putting an end to Zionist myths and hopes that are several decades old, and marks the end of a chapter in the history of the State of Israel".

Putting an end to Zionist myths

Haaretz

It said that Clinton's proposals took as their starting point the definition of the Israeli state's borders and the status of Jerusalem as set down in the UN partition resolution of 1949, and that most Israelis would find it difficult to accept abandoning the territorial gains made in defiance of this resolution.

"The Israeli Defence Forces' achievements in the War of Independence and the Six Day War... have made the idea of an internationalised Jerusalem an historic anecdote," Haaretz said.

Israelis would also have to come to terms with the fact that many Jewish religious sites would fall within Palestinian territory.

"If the Clinton plan is accepted, Israel will have to... separate itself from natural and holy sites that were part of the education of an entire generation," the paper added.


Perhaps Barak is once again counting on Yasser Arafat's rejectionism

Haaretz
Decisions, decisions

Haaretz speculated that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak could be counting on Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to reject the proposals first, thus saving him the trouble of having to make a difficult decision himself.

"Perhaps Barak is once again counting on Yasser Arafat's rejectionism to save him from making the tough decision at the very last moment," it said.

Concessions

The right-wing religious paper Hatzofe was particularly scathing of the proposals, and accused Mr Barak of trying to push through a deal at any price in order to save his own political career.

"The cat is out of the bag. From now on, everyone knows that the big end-of-season sale has started at rock bottom prices. And it is aimed at stemming Ehud Barak's continuing decline," Hatzofe said.

[Barak is] seeking to save himself from an election failure at any price, while totally ignoring the political, security and national interests of the State of Israel

Hatzofe

It said that Mr Barak was now prepared to make much more far-reaching concessions than at last July's Camp David summit.

"He has no inhibitions. Today, he has only one aim in mind, and that is to save his skin in the election campaign for the premiership."

Hatzofe said that Mr Barak was "unfit" to continue as leader of the Israeli people, and accused him of "seeking to save himself from an election failure at any price, while totally ignoring the political, security and national interests of the State of Israel".

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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