News Release

Perspectives On Clinton News Conference

NASEER ARURI
Professor at the University of Massachusetts, former board member of Amnesty International and author of “The Obstruction of Peace: The U.S., Israel, and the Palestinians,” Aruri is among over 1,000 who signed a petition against Yaser Arafat’s November 28 jailing of scores of political dissidents. Aruri commented today: “Clinton said he stood against those who are opposed to the current agreements between Yaser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Barak. That seems to be a tacit backing of the extraordinarily repressive measures taken by Arafat against those who are noting that the agreements are exceedingly unfair to the Palestinian people. Clinton also gave the impression that Barak pledged to stop demolishing Palestinian homes and cease building illegal settlements; but Barak did no such thing. A just-released Amnesty International study found that demolitions of Palestinian homes by Israeli forces continue unabated.”
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KEVIN DANAHER
Co-founder of Global Exchange, Danaher said: “Clinton’s pointing to the NAFTA labor and environmental side agreements gives hypocrisy a bad name. The side agreements are worse than nothing, because they create an illusion that something is being done for the environment and labor, when in fact they are procedural dead ends. We work with the people on the border with Mexico who are trying to deal with these issues and all they report is frustration with the ineffectiveness of these side agreements. The real effect of the side agreements is to allow U.S. corporations to continue their polluting with a fig leaf of verbal concern for the environment with no implementation power.”
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LARRY BIRNS
Clinton referred to extradition by the president of Colombia of drug dealers to the U.S. as well as a Cuban boy pending in U.S. courts. Director of the Council for Hemispheric Affairs, Birns, who just returned from Colombia and Miami, said: “The Colombian president does not have serious power over the Colombian military, which — with its paramilitary allies — is responsible for 80 percent of the human rights abuses that have taken place in the past decade. The U.S. is looking at further militarizing the anti-drug effort in Colombia, but that can only increase human rights abuses as the violence in the country broadens and deepens. The problem is compounded by the fact that the military is more the problem than the solution of the current drug trafficking.” On the issue of the Cuban boy, Birns said: “The administration would be foolish to jeopardize its all-important 1994-95 immigration accord with Havana just to pander to its own partisan electoral self-interest.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020