Arab press accuses Netanyahu of concocting scandal

JERUSALEM — The official Syrian daily A-Thawra accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday of concocting the White House sex scandal because of his "differences of opinion" with President Clinton regarding the Middle East peace process.

An editorial quoted by the French news agency, Agence France-Presse, contended that the meeting between the chief executive and the prime minister did not produce any results because of "the pressure and scandals brought to Washington by Netanyahu."

It followed similar allegations published in Jerusalem's Palestinian press on Friday of last week. They were voiced simultaneously in many of the sermons delivered during Moslem prayer services conducted in mosques throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a Palestinian source said.

Stories to this effect also appeared in the Saudi Arabian press, according to the international news agencies.

"These scandals bind the American Administration hand and foot," a lengthy A-Thawra editorial said. It charged that "whenever there are differences of opinion Israel generates scandals for use against the American president.

"All these scandals are prepared in minute detail so that they will break out just as [Netanyahu] enters the White House [so as] to paralyze the president and prevent him from thinking calmly."

A-Thawra predicted "more sensational bombshells or an aggravation of the `Lewinsky scandal' if Clinton persists in his current attitude toward Israel."

It noted that the disclosures about the chief executive's alleged liaison with White House intern Monica Lewinsky broke out the day after his conversation with Netanyahu.