Substance of the Message: “The United States will publicly support the establishment of a Palestinian State, if Israel does not carry out the stages which it agreed to in the Oslo Agreement”. The Prime Minister’s Bureau: “It never happened”

The United States has warned Israel that it will publicly support the establishment of a Palestinian State, with the Jordan River as its Eastern border, if Israel does not carry out the three withdrawal stages which it agreed to in the Oslo agreement. This message was delivered yesterday by a senior official in the American administration.

According to the American source, the White House has delivered this ultimatum to Netanyahu’s office, because of difficulties which have arisen in the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. In discussions which took place in Washington with Israeli Embassy staff, senior administration officials stated that 1997 was disastrous for the peace process and that during the month of December it will be necessary to make up for all that was not done in the previous 11 months.

The American source stated that senior officials in the United States Administration have reached the conclusion that Netanyahu does not intend to carry out Israel’s commitments in the Oslo Agreement. The United States is attempting to formulate its own initiative, as it feels that the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have reached an impasse. According to the view now taking hold in the United States, it will not be possible to reach a final settlement without the establishment of a Palestinian State.

The senior administration official stated that, despite the foregoing, if ultimately the Israelis and Palestinians can reach their own understandings, the United states will moderate its involvement and will not impose a solution.

A senior Israeli Embassy official in Washington expressed concern regarding a possible change in American policy and said: “In the past few days, Arab officials feel that they can expect something very significant as a result of this change in American policy, so they are convinced that if they wait and exert pressure they will receive more.”

Shai Bazak, media adviser to the Prime Minister, denied that any ultimatum was received and stated: “It never happened”. US involvement in the peace process gained further momentum with the appointment of Ned Walker as the new American Ambassador to Israel. Our correspondent, Alex Fishman, reported that Walker, due to begin his term in Israel on December 23, is thought to be a close associate of Madeleine Albright and a supporter of active American involvement in the political arena.