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Release: Immediate

UI law professor and Middle East advisor: Peace prospects dim

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Prospects for peace in the Middle East are the dimmest they have been for years, at least among many segments of the Palestinian population, says Adrien Wing, professor of law at the University of Iowa and a long-time scholar and advisor in the region.

Wing, who returned from a 10-day trip to the Palestinian-controlled West Bank, the Gaza Strip and to other parts of Israel on Sunday, Nov. 9, says that in interviews with more than 100 people, few held out hope that the peace process would succeed.

"I was quite shocked by the pessimistic tone," Wing says. "No one feels that there is anything good that will come out of the current situation."

Wing, who was in the Middle East for a scholarly conference sponsored by the Palestinian Institute for Democracy, has traveled extensively to the region in the past 10 years. In May and August 1996, she was the only American advising the Palestine Legislative Council on a "basic law," or constitution, for the West Bank and Gaza.

The document has recently been approved by the Palestine legislature but has so far been ignored by Yasir Arafat, president of the Palestinian National Authority, Wing says.

Wing says the lack of progress in the peace negotiations; lack of action on the constitution; increased pressure from Israel and the United States on Arafat, which has reinforced his previous tendencies to violate human rights; this summer's terrorists acts by the Palestinian group Hamas and potential future attacks; and the Israeli government's assassination attempt on a Hamas official in Jordan have all added to the ominous tone in the Middle East.

"I don't feel good about the prospects for peace or for the peace process," Wing says. "Literally anything could happen, and none of it is going to be good."

Wing is currently writing a book on Palestinian democracy.


EDITORS NOTE: Adrien Wing, professor of law at the University of Iowa, is available to comment on the situation in the Middle East. She can be reached at (319) 335-9129.