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Gingrich: Put More Pressure On Arafat

Speaker also suggests 'pre-emptive' strikes against Mideast terrorists


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 9) -- House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a pro-Israel group the U.S. must step up its pressure on Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat to fully embrace the crumbling Mideast peace process.

Gingrich, who spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, said the administration needs to force Arafat to make a choice between "honest involvement in the peace process or clear hostility with the United States of America."

Gingrich said it's dangerous "to confuse the terrorist and the democracy ... It is extraordinarily dangerous to always impose the burden on those who are your friends because you're too timid to tell the truth to those who are your enemies."

The speaker suggested the Clinton Administration is undermining Israel's security by equating Palestinian violence with new Israeli housing in east Jerusalem. The latest round of violence between Palestinian youths and Israeli troops flared after the Israeli government broke ground on a new housing project in the area.

Gingrich also said the U.S. should adopt "principles that say, 'If you're a terrorist, you should not expect to live very long,'" and make a commitment "to pre-emptive strikes when we deem them appropriate."

An Arafat spokesman suggested Gingrich was trying to improve his low standing with the public with his tough talk.

Said Marwan Kanafani: "Mr. Gingrich cannot improve his damaged image at the expense of the Palestinian people by issuing accusations ... in order to satisfy the Israeli lobby in the U.S. He should use his position to try to push peace forward, which is the only way to save the lives of Palestinians and Israelis."

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