Wednesday, May 22, 1991

Sec. of State Baker, in testimony before U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee, calls continued building of Israeli settlements "largest obstacle" to convening proposed Middle East peace conference. Remarks come in wake of four new settlements established in occupied territories since Baker began his recent peace initiative. (See JPS 80, doc. D2)

More than 200,000 Israelis now live in occupied territories. (NYT, WP, LAT 5/23)

Pres. al-Asad and Lebanese Pres. Ilyas al-Hirawi sign a "Treaty of Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination" in Damascus. (See JPS 80, doc. B9). Treaty establishes joint Syrian-Lebanese institutions for coordinating defense, security, foreign and economy policy, under authority of higher council comprising the two country's presidents, prime ministers and parliamentary speakers. Treaty transforms Syrian influence in Lebanon into formal role.

Treaty calls for Syria to redeploy its 40,000 troops in Lebanon in Biqa' valley. Syrian troops currently effectively control two-thirds of Lebanon.

Lebanese Maronite Catholic Patriarch Nasr Allah Sufayr opposes accord, stating that it would lead to Syrian domination of Lebanon. Israel voiced opposition to the accord as well. (NYT, WP, LAT 5/23)

Israeli def. ministry confirms that Polish Pres. Walesa promised Def. Min. Moshe Arens that Poland will not sell tanks to Syria out of deference to Israel. (LAT 5/22)

Knesset erupts into shouting match when Knesset Speaker Dov Shilansky (Likud) calls on Israeli peace activist Abie Nathan to halt his 25-day fast. Nathan began fast 3/25 to protest Israeli law forbidding Israelis to meet with members of PLO. Shilansky's statement came in wake of failed motion to abolish law. Nathan has publicly met Yasir Arafat several times since law was passed, serving 122 days in prison in 1990 as result. (NYT 5/23; MEM 7/15)

Los Angeles Times reports that Coca-Cola Company was removed last month from list of companies boycotted by Arab League for their dealings with Israel. Japanese car manufacturer Toyota also reported last month that it will begin selling cars in Israel in 1992, a departure from its policy of dealing solely with Arab countries. (LAT 5/22)