Highlights

  • President Arafat Attends Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.: On 4 February 1999, President Yasser Arafat attended the 47th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. The annual breakfast, which was first held in 1942, is organized and hosted by members of Congress and is traditionally attended by up to 4000 guests, including many world leaders. Hosting of the event alternates annually between the Democratic and Republican parties, with this year’s breakfast being hosted by Representative Steve Largent, (R) Oklahoma.

Following the breakfast, President Arafat met with President Clinton to discuss the current state of deterioration of the Middle East peace process, including the Israeli suspension of the Wye River Memorandum, concluded in October of 1998 and signed at the White House, and the freeze of the final status negotiations. The two leaders also discussed the U.S. position vis--vis Palestinian plans with regard to the future declaration of an independent Palestinian state. While in Washington, President Arafat also met with Secretary of State Albright to discuss the implementation of the Wye River Memorandum and development of the U.S.-Palestinian relationship.

  • U.N. Assembly Pays Tribute to King Hussein: On Monday, 8 February 1999, the 10th ESS of the General Assembly held a special meeting to pay tribute to the late King Hussein of Jordan. The tribute was held a few hours after he was buried at a state funeral in Amman, an event that was attended by many world leaders. At the onset of the meeting, members of the Assembly stood to observe a minute of silence in respect for King Hussein, who led Jordan for over 40 years. The Assembly then heard statements of tribute by the representatives of the five U.N. regional groups, followed by statements by the U.S., as the host country to the U.N., and by United Arab Emirates, as the Chairman of the Arab Group. Statements were also made by the representatives of Egypt, Israel, Russia and Palestine. In conclusion, the representative of Jordan responded to the statements expressed by members of the Assembly in support and solidarity for King Hussein’s family, the government and the people of Jordan. The death of King Hussein, who was highly regarded by the international community, represents a great loss for Jordan and for the Middle East region as a whole.
  • Palestine Responds to Israeli Distortions at the U.N.: On 9 February 1999, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine sent a letter to the Secretary-General of the U.N., H.E. Mr. Kofi Annan, in response to a letter sent by Israel containing numerous political falsifications. Such distortions and falsities have recently become common in Israeli letters to the Secretary-General, as well as in Israeli statements at the U.N. The following is an excerpt from the letter:

I write to you with regard to the letter addressed to Your Excellency from the Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations on 1 February 1999. The content of that letter, which follows a recent disturbing pattern of repetitive distortions and false statements, is regrettable and does not qualify a response at a time when the whole world is well aware of the reality of the state of the peace process and the responsibility the Israeli government bears in this regard, especially the freezing of the Wye River Memorandum. This pattern of distortion has reached a point of absurdity and it would be fruitless to become entangled in any sort of rebuttal. Indeed, the response to the above-mentioned letter can be found in the clear positions reaffirmed by the international community as demonstrated recently by Member States through the resumption of the tenth emergency special session of the General Assembly.