JERUSALEM (Jul. 15)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin said here today that the Mideast conflict was basically a conflict between states and therefore the key to its solution lay in the relations between the countries in conflict. Israel, he said, sought to negotiate with its neighboring states to end the conflict–and in those negotiations all the problems which cause tension in the region, including the Palestinian problem, would be aired and resolved.
The Premier conceded that there was “a problem of Arabs who used to live…or do still live in Palestine….” But, he continued, “this is a secondary issue which must be solved and can be solved once the Arab states are ready to make peace… and to reconcile themselves to the existence of Israel as a Jewish independent state.”
Rabin replied to questions at a Foreign Press Association luncheon at the King David Hotel. Many of the newsmen sought to query him on the Palestinian issue, following a statement by Information Minister Aharon Yariv that Israel could possibly negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) if that organization renounced its declared aim of destroying the Jewish State and ceased terrorist actions. Rabin said he thought this question was completely hypothetical and therefore did not warrant an answer from him. It would be “wild” to assume that the PLO would “change completely,” he said.
ONLY TWO STATES IN THE AREA
He reiterated Israel’s position that there must be only two states in the area–Israel and Jordan; a ” state east of Israel in which the Jordanians and Palestinians can express their special identity. We see no possibility of a third state. It will not serve as any solution of what is called ‘the Palestinian problem’…it will serve to increase tension…and it will be a time-bomb to both Israel and Jordan.”
(In New York, the magazine Newsweek reported today that PLO leader Yassir Arafat said that he would accept a Palestinian mini-state on any land Israel would withdraw from. “We have now taken the decision to establish a Palestinian national authority on any piece of land from which the Israelis withdraw, such as the West Bank and Gaza,” the magazine quoted him as saying.)
Rabin said there was no possibility of negotiating with the PLO since it “aims at the destruction of Israel.” Nor was there any “reason for Israel to recognize a body which I do not believe represents the Palestinians…and carries out activities which Israel will do its very best to put an end to,” he said. Once the rule whereby negotiations were to proceed only between states was broken, there would be “ten groups” which would seek representation.
DAILY DIALOGUE WITH PALESTINIANS
Israel had a “daily dialogue” with the Palestinians within its borders and in the administered areas–probably more dialogue with them than the PLO had, Rabin stressed. There were plentiful opportunities for an exchange of view, he said. A political organization growing up under Israeli rule
Israel’s next step would be to wait and see how the signatories of the two disengagement accords proceeded now, Rabin said, while at the same time “exploring in the coming months the possibilities of moving towards peace.” This process of exploration was complicated, of course, by the fact that there were no direct channels of communication between Israel and the Arabs.
Israel, he said, saw in the Geneva conference a framework for bilateral negotiations between Israel and each of the other parties. It would not be reasonable to expect “any productive and positive outcome” from a plenary session where all the Arab delegations and the Soviets and the media were all assembled together, he said. The disengagement agreements, negotiated on the bilateral level, were to be seen a part of the Geneva conference, the direct results of the first plenary session, he said.
Rabin stressed Israel is “ready to negotiate with anyone who is ready to negotiate with us,” but added: “We have to find out which party is ready to talk, and adjust our way of thinking to the first party which is ready.” After the war and the disengagements, it had indeed seemed that Egypt was bent on peace and reconstruction, Rabin said. But speeches made in Egypt in recent weeks “put a question-mark” on this hypothesis, Rabin said, adding he “hoped that they still believe in political means to solve the conflict.”
To a newsman who commented on Rabin’s attendance yesterday at the French Embassy Bastille Day reception–the first time by an Israeli Premier since the Six-Day War–Rabin said Israel indeed hoped for a change in policy from some European countries “who have hopefully learned that an unbalanced policy gained them very little.” Israel would do all it could to foster such change–including “gestures,” he said.