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Israeli Premier Courts Jewish Groups in U.S.

July 12, 1996|JOHN J. GOLDMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, seeking to bolster support for his new government among America's Jewish communities, said Thursday he told President Clinton that Israel alone must make decisions affecting its security when it conducts negotiations with its Arab neighbors.

Describing his White House meeting to an attentive audience of leaders of major American Jewish organizations, Netanyahu--no stranger to the nuances of American politics--said Clinton understands the new Israeli government's mission.

"He understands . . . there is a new government in Israel with a new mandate, democratically received, to try to arrive at a real peace that doesn't explode in our faces--literally," Netanyahu said.

During a day in which he sat down with Bob Dole, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, Netanyahu also courted investment on Wall Street. He pledged to 200 top business and financial executives gathered at the New York Stock Exchange to privatize almost all of Israel's state-owned industries.

He received a warm welcome when he addressed the Conference of Major American Jewish Organizations in a Manhattan hotel.

"He is coming at a time when in the U.S. there remains the shock of the attack in Saudi Arabia on our troops and also Syria's regional mischief vis-a-vis Turkey, an American ally," said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. "He is finding a somewhat more receptive atmosphere to his own message about the dangers to the region, more so than he would have found a year ago."

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