Arab States, Not Palestinians, Must Be Partners with Israel in Mideast Peace-making Efforts

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said today that it is the Arab states which must be partners with Israel in any Middle Eastern peace-making efforts. The spokesman was commenting on remarks by the Algerian Foreign Minister. Abdelaziz Bouteflika who said in Paris today that direct negotiations between Israel and Palestinian leaders were desirable and “possible.” (See separate story from Paris.)

The Israeli spokesman said it was up to the Arab states to make peace since they have been in a state of belligerency with Israel since 1948. He said that since 1967, Israeli diplomats have had many discussions with prominent Palestinians living inside Israel’s borders and that they had pointed out that it was impossible to reach a settlement without the participation of the Arab governments.

Mayor Mohammed Ali Jaabari, of Hebron, meanwhile has denounced a proposal by President Habib Bourguiba of Tunisia that the Palestinians take over Jordan as their own state. Bourguiba described Jordan as an “artificial state” and said King Hussein should step down in favor of a Palestinian Jordan. Jaabari, one of the most influential Arab leaders on the West Bank, labeled the Tunisian President’s proposal as one of “infidelity. He said that if Jordan is an artificial state “so are all the other Arab countries.”

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