Monday, May 17, 1999

Israelis elect One Israel's Ehud Barak as PM with 56.1% of the vote, meaning no 6/1 runoff is needed. In the Knesset, 6 of the 15 parties to win seats are new, including the anti-Orthodox Shinui, formed 2 mos. ago, which won 6 seats. Control of right-wing parties shrinks, as Russians, other centrists gain, changing the balance of power. The ultra-Orthodox Shas, however, gains 7 new seats for total of 17 seats, security its place as the 3d largest party after Labor/One Israel (27, down fr. 34 seats), Likud (19 seats, down fr. 32 seats). The 1st Israeli Arab woman, Husniyya Jabara of Meretz, is also elected to parliament. Israel seals the West Bank, Gaza for the elections. Arab, Asian, European states, the U.S, and Russia welcome Barak's victory, hope it means the peace process will resume soon. (MM 5/17; AFP, LPA 5/17 in WNC 5/18; CSM, MM, NYT, WP, WT 5/18; AFP, al-Ahram, Chungang Ilbo [Seoul], Interfax, JT, Kyodo [Tokyo], MENA, MKR, RE, RNE-1 Radio Network [Madrid], SANA, SAPA [Johannesburg], Taiwan Central News Agency, VOL, Xinhua [Beijing] 5/18 in WNC 5/19; al-Akhbar 5/18 in WNC 5/21; MENA 5/18, Athens News Agency, Interfax, ITAR-TASS, JT, LPA, RE, Sueddeutsche Zeitung [Munich] 5/19 in WNC 5/20; CSM, NYT, WP, WT 5/19; CSM, NYT, WJW 5/20; CSM, MEI, MM, NYT 5/21; JP 5/28; CSM 6/17)

In a victory speech, PM-elect Barak lists 4 "red lines" for peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), promises to put any final status agmt. to a referendum by the Israeli public. (MM 5/18; JT 5/19 in WNC 5/20; MEI 5/21)

On the 3d day of his Washington visit, King Abdallah of Jordan meets with U.S. Secy. of State Madeleine Albright, calls for lifting sanctions on Iraq. U.S. urges France, Germany, other creditors to cancel Jordan's debt; encourages Jordan to seek additional U.S. economic assistance. In the afternoon, the king discusses trade issue with U.S. Commerce Secy. William Daley, receives reps. of various American Jewish groups at Blair House. (JT 5/17 in WNC 5/18; WP, WT 5/18; al-Ra'i 5/18 in WNC 5/20; MM 5/21)

Venezuela signs $20 m. deal to buy Israeli antiaircraft defense system. (YA 5/18 in WNC 5/19)

In s. Lebanon, Israeli Defense Force (IDF) shelling kills 2 civilians. (RL 5/17 in WNC 5/18; NYT, WP 5/18; RL 5/18 in WNC 5/19; WT 5/19)