Arab-Americans Raise Concerns with National Sec Advisor Berger
Arab-Americans Raise Concerns with National Security Advisor Berger Washington D.C., August 16 — A delegation of Arab-American and American Muslim groups, including the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), met today at the White House with National Security Advisor Sandy Berger. The delegation will be returning to the White House for a meeting with President Clinton in early Fall.
Among the issues discussed were the slow pace of the Israeli government in implementing the Wye Accords, and questions about its commitment to a full implementation of its many unfulfilled obligations. ADC Chair Naila Asali pointed out that the lack of a full and prompt implementation of Israel’s commitments under the peace process agreements casts doubt not only on negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, but also on the chances for an agreement between Israel, Syria and Lebanon. National Security Advisor Berger stated that the Wye Accord must be fully implemented unless the Palestinian Authority agrees to any modification of it.
The delegation was assured that the United States was committed to remaining a full partner in the peace process and had no intention of becoming merely a “facilitator” as the Israeli government has been suggesting. ADC Chair Asali thanked the White House for using its national security waiver to avoid moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.
The delegation expressed concern that the Barak government is continuing provocative policies which damage the peace process. The delegation cited Prime Minister Barak’s stated intentions of leaving over 40 “hilltop settlements” established in the waning months of the Netanyahu regime intact, and his commitment to resume building Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, including at the Jabal Abu Ghneim (“Har Homa”) site. The National Security Advisor stated that these were issues for final status talks and expressed hope that they would soon commence.
Naila Asali asked for White House support for H.R. 2121, the “Secret Evidence Repeal Act of 1999,” which would abolish the use of secret evidence in all US courts. At present over 20 individuals, all but one of Arab origin, are being held in jail without charge on the basis of secret evidence withheld from them and their attorneys. Some are starting their 4th year of incarceration under these conditions. ADC is committed to abolishing the use of secret evidence.
ADC Chair Asali said that “I agree with the National Security Advisor that this was a very positive meeting. We look forward to returning to the White House to meet with the President.”