Yar’s Statement on Palestinians Raises Eyebrows and Criticism

The statement by Information Minister Aharon Yariv holding out the possibility of negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has raised eyebrows in government circles — and caused a good deal of criticism from the opposition. Foreign diplomats here are also reported to have expressed much interest at this apparently new line — although a policy speech by Premier Yitzhak Rabin yesterday sought to reaffirm Israel’s continued refusal to negotiate with terrorists and thus to correct any wrong impression that Yariv may have given in his statement Friday.

Yariv said, in an interview with the army radio, that any negotiations on the fate of Judea and Samaria should be held with Jordan. On the other hand, all Arab countries are agreed that the Palestinians are represented only by the PLO headed by Yasir Arafat, the same PLO which wrote into its 1968 “Palestine Covenant” that the democratic Palestinian republic would arise from the ruins of the State of Israel. This platform was reconfirmed by the Cairo Conference a few weeks ago.

“How can we negotiate with representatives of murderers who kill for the sake of killing–and how shall we negotiate with the Palestinians at large if these are their sole representatives,” Yariv said. “Should the PLO announce that its covenant was no longer valid, and declare its readiness to enter negotiations while acknowledging the existence of a Jewish state here in Israel, and should this organization announce the cessation of all hostile actions against Israel and indeed terminate them — then it would be possible to start negotiating.”

FAR FROM REVOLUTIONARY

Thus, as the more balanced commentators have pointed out, Yariv’s statement was far from revolutionary. It certainly did not envisage talks with the PLO so long as that group

Yariv was asked about his statement by Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili. considered a staunch hawk. Yariv said some press reports had taken his statement out of context and he read aloud the statement he made over radio.

(In Beirut, the leadership of the PLO was reported skeptical over Yariv’s statement although there was considerable interest and discussion among the rank-and-file. Meanwhile Arafat is scheduled to lead a PLO delegation to Moscow this week at the invitation of Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev. The Soviet Union is expected to recognize the PLO during the visit as the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.)

NO DISCUSSION OF PALESTINIAN ENTITY

Rabin, in an address to a Labor Party leadership rally yesterday, said the government had no intention of discussing “a Palestinian entity” as the newspaper Haaretz had claimed. “In order to progress towards peace and a solution to the Palestinian problem, I am convinced that almost the only partner with which a solution is possible is in the Jordanian regime….” Rabin said.

“Any such Israeli decision (to negotiate with ‘the Palestinians’) would inevitably entail granting a representative status to Israel’s worst enemies — to those who refuse to recognize Israel’s existence, those who declare that their objective is Israel’s liquidation.”

While Rabin rejected the theory that the Palestinian issue was the key to Mideast progress — that key, he said, was in Egypt’s hands — the Premier nevertheless recognized frankly that the problem existed, that the Palestinians existed, and that they would have to be taken into account in any solution. This itself represented a notable change of tone in comparison with former Premier Golda Meir’s uncompromisingly negative stand on this issue.

ALLON. KISSINGER TO MEET JULY 29

Rabin is due to lead the Cabinet in a far ranging review of Israel’s position on the Palestinian issue — and particularly on their possible representation in the Geneva conference — in advance of Foreign Minister Yigal Allon’s visit to Washington later this month. Allon will meet with U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger July 29. officials said here today. He is expected to bring to Washington an authoritative new formulation of Israeli policy on the West Bank and on the next stage of the peace conference.

At their meeting at the week’s end. Kissinger is understood to have told Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz that there was no U.S. intention to support the idea of a Palestinian state, and that the U.S. would support Israel it Israel decided to press for another round of talks with Egypt before tackling the West Bank-Palestinian issue.

The U.S. however, has repeatedly warned Israel in recent weeks that time and terrorism are working with the PLO’s favor. The longer the West Bank-Palestinian issue is held in abeyance, President Nixon told Rabin during his visit here, the more firmly the PLO becomes ensconced, in Arab and world opinion, as the sole representative of the Palestinians.

(In Washington, Thursday, a high level State Department official told newsmen that high level contacts between the U.S. and Palestinian organizations may develop in the coming months. But the official stressed that up to now there have been no such contacts.)

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