Israeli and Arab Say Mideast Peace Will Be Difficult Task
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Israeli and Arab Say Mideast Peace Will Be Difficult Task

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An Israeli and Egyptian agreed today that achieving peace in the Middle East will be a long and difficult task but both urged Jews and Arabs to continue making the effort. Arie Eliav, a member of the Knesset and author of “Land of the Hart,” and Sana Hassan, a Ph.D. candidate in government at Harvard University, and daughter of Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States from 1939-48, Mahmoud Hassan, spoke at a panel discussion on Arab-Israeli relations during the 68th annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee at the Hilton Hotel.

Ms. Hassan said no one should expect a quick reconciliation between Israeli and Arab states. “The most we can look forward to is a slow, difficult and gradual process of peaceful co-existence.” she stressed. Ms. Hassan said that despite whatever Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had said to quiet political opposition, Egypt is to committee to finding a peaceful settlement to the Mideast problem.

She called the Kiryat Shemona and Maalot massacres “horrible” and said that governments that have kept quiet about them are morally responsible. But she said the only way to prevent further such “outrages” is the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank. She warned that to return the West Bank to the rule of King Hussein of Jordan would result in a continued cycle of terrorism and war.


Eliav, former Secretary General of the Israel Labor Party and considered a leading dove, said he did not agree that the solution was as simple as Ms. Hassan made it. He noted that not only did one million Palestinians live on the West Bank but another one million lived in Jordan and they had to be included in any solution to the problem. He said Israel should declare on a high policy level. what territories it is willing to give up in return for peace and decide how to use the territories as a lever for peace.

He stressed that the Arab “killers” at Maalot, Kiryat Shemona and elsewhere were trying to sabotage the good relations between Arabs and Jews in Israel and on the West Bank and the Mideast peace talks. But he urged that despite the atmosphere created by such incidents, “don’t generalize about Arabs.” He noted that Jews for the past 1.000 years have suffered more from Christians than from Moslems.

Eliav noted that all Israeli “doves” will fight to maintain Israel’s security but they want to find a compromise with the Arabs. But he warned that it will not come in the 20th century although he hoped his children will see it. Both Eliav and Ms. Hassan received a standing ovation from the audience. Another panel member. Peter Grose, editorial writer for the New York Times and a former Times correspondent in Jerusalem, noted the extraordinary occurrence of having an Israeli and Arab appearing on the same platform.


Earlier Sidney Sober, senior Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs said that while the style and intensity of United States policy in the Middle East has changed, “the substance of the policy is unaltered.” He said the U.S. wants to help produce a movement toward peace and reduce Soviet influence in the Middle East.

Sober, who was substituting for Undersecretary of State Joseph Sisco, said that the U.S. has no master plan for the Mideast but is moving pragmatically step by step on each issue to encourage talks between both sides. He said there were signs of hope for a settlement. Pressed by the audience on the U.S. support of the Security Council condemning Israel, Sober said the U.S. wanted to include a condemnation of the Kiryat Shemona massacre but could not achieve this. He said the resolution did contain a condemnation of the use of violence.

Elmer L. Winter, who was re-elected to his second term as AJ Committee president in Thursday’s opening session, called for a “fuller and more constructive partnership between Israel and America” which included the need to interpret America’s mood to Israel and Israel’s needs to America. He said that on his recent visit to Israel, “I found an Israel that was questioning, as we are in America, its electoral processes and its governmental decision-making apparatus….I believe that this re-examination…will develop a strong Israel.”

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