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  • May 29, 1991

    Pres. Bush unveils proposal for arms control in Middle East, his first concrete policy initiative dealing with region since end of Gulf war (see JPS 80, doc. D3). Proposal includes call...

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  • May 24, 1991

    Secy. of State Baker modifies 5/22 statement concerning Israeli settlement-building as an obstacle to peace, notes that "other obstacles" present equal difficulties. Baker was criticized by...

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Pres. Bush unveils proposal for arms control in Middle East, his first concrete policy initiative dealing with region since end of Gulf war (see JPS 80, doc. D3). Proposal includes call for: U.S., USSR, China, France, Britain to halt certain arms transfers; freeze on acquisition of surface-to-surface ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons-grade uranium & plutonium; regional acquiescence to global ban on poison gas weapons; commitments to abide by 1972 treaty on biological weapons and 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Proposals do not call for specific treaties but rather encourage self-restraint. Administration confirms that Israel, which has not signed Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has objected to provisions on nuclear weapons. Israel reportedly possesses some 100 nuclear warheads. (NYT, WP, LAT 5/30)

Israeli government admits paying $35 million to government of former Pres. Mengistu Haile Mariam's government in Ethiopia for release of Ethiopian Jews flown to Israel 5/24 and 5/25, confirms that two senior officials of deposed government were given temporary asylum in Israel as part of deal. (NYT 5/30)

Following talks with Jordanian For. Min. Tahir al-Masri, PLO Pol. Dept. Head Faruq al-Qaddumi states that Jordan and Syria have responded positively to PLO proposal for coordinated stand among Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and PLO toward U.S. peace efforts in region. (MEM 5/29)

U.S. Def. Secy. Richard Cheney arrives in Israel for talks on arms sales. Israel has complained recently that U.S. is delaying delivery of $700 million in arms promised to Israel. Cheney states Washington remains committed to assuring Israel's military advantage over Arab states. (LAT 5/30) 

Secy. of State Baker modifies 5/22 statement concerning Israeli settlement-building as an obstacle to peace, notes that "other obstacles" present equal difficulties. Baker was criticized by American Jewish organizations, some U.S. senators, for singling out Israel in his remarks. Pres. Bush backs Baker's criticism of Israeli settlement building. (NYT, WP 5/24)

Israel begins airlifting remaining 16,000 Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia to Israel in "Operation Solomon" following secret talks with the collapsing government of Ethiopia. 5/22 letter from Pres. Bush to acting Ethiopian Pres. Lt.-Gen. Tesfaye Gebre-Kidan promising U.S. mediation efforts in Ethiopian civil war in return for unrestricted Jewish emigration paved way for airlift. Bush had earlier written Ethiopian Pres. Mengistu Haile Mariam in April urging release of the Jews. Unnamed U.S. official states Bush asked Israeli Prime Min. Yitzhak Shamir not to settle the Ethiopians in the occupied territories. Aide to Shamir confirmed Israel told U.S. it had "no intention" of settling immigrants on what he termed "occupied land." Simha Dinitz, Israel'senior immigration official, confirmed that none would be placed in occupied territories. Western relief workers complained that valuable resources expended on operation could have been used to aid Ethiopian famine victims remaining in Ethiopia. Airlift comes as Israel is struggling to absorb nearly 250,000 Soviet Jewish immigrants who arrived in past 20 months. 12,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel in "Operation Moses" in 1984 before Arab criticism prompted Ethiopian government to halt exodus. 8,000 others came to Israel after emigration resumed on small scale in 1989. By beginning of 1991, more than 20,000 Ethiopian Jews were living in Israel. (NYT, WP 5/25, 5/26; LAT 5/27; NYT 6/6)

U.S. state department issues cautious statement on 5/22 Syrian-Lebanese treaty, noting that it will monitor events to determine if Lebanon's independence is respected. (WP 5/25)

Israeli Def. Min. Spokesman Danny Naveh states that Israel will release all Lebanese prisoners held by Israel, including alleged Hizballah spiritual leader Shaykh 'Abd al-Karim 'Ubayd, in exchange for Israeli prisoners held in Lebanon. Hizballah spokesman added that Israel must release Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners, that Hizballah could only release those Israelis it holds and not those held by other groups. A total of seven Israelis were captured or reported missing in Lebanon since 1982 Israeli invasion, of whom only two are believed to be alive. Hizballah admits to holding two Israelis. Hizballah is seeking release of Shi'ites held both by Israel and Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army. Agreement came in wake of statement earlier in the week by Shaykh 'Abbas al-Musawi, new leader of Hizballah, that Hizballah would release the two Israelis if Israel freed Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners it held. The proposed exchange could lead to release of Western hostages held in Lebanon as well. (WP 5/25; NYT 5/26)

U.S. joins other 14 members of U.N. Security Council in voting to deplore 5/18 deportation of four Palestinians from Gaza. (WP, LAT 5/25; see JPS 80, doc. A5)