Allon: More Flexibility in Accepting Negotiating Partner for West Bank Settlement; PLO out

Foreign Minister Yigal Allon indicated today that in the wake of the Rabat conference, Israel would have to be more flexible in its acceptance of a negotiating partner for a settlement on the West Bank. But he reiterated the government’s determination not to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The Foreign Minister surprised newsmen at a press conference by denying a statement made by Information Minister Aharon Yariv and other senior officials over the weekend that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger would return to the Middle East next month to prepare for a second stage of Israeli-Egyptian negotiations aimed at a partial settlement in Sinai.

Yariv had repeated that statement several times in briefing reporters on Kissinger’s talks with Israeli leaders here Friday. Allon said. “It is an embarrassing situation, but Yariv simply made a mistake.” He said that Kissinger had mentioned no intention of returning to the Middle East next month. “Of course, I am not ruling out the possibility that Kissinger will come,” Allon said. “After all, for him to come to the Middle East is like for me to go from Jerusalem to Gennosar (Allon’s home kibbutz in Galilee) but nothing was fixed,” the Foreign Minister said.

SITUATION WORSE SINCE RABAT

Allon described the overall situation in the Middle East as “a lot worse” since the Rabat conference. He accused the PLO of trying to undermine any possibility of political progress. He said that one of the lessons of the Rabat conference for Israel was that until Rabat it was understood that the self-expression of the Palestinians would be found in Jordan, but now the situation has changed and Israel should reconsider its policy on the political expression of West Bank residents.

“I do not think the only alternatives we have are Jordan or the status quo. A third possibility may arise, but it needs further study.” Allon said. He refused to elaborate, saying it would be “premature.” But he said he had been thinking about this problem for many years and was “ready to open such a debate in the Cabinet.”

Allon cautioned against pessimism, but his out-look with regard to further negotiations with Egypt was not as optimistic as that conveyed to the press by Yariv after Kissinger’s departure Friday. Allon said the Secretary had not reached any definite agreement “neither in substance nor in process” during his latest tour of the Middle East. But Kissinger indicated plainly that he has not given up hope for further political negotiations, Allon said.

Allon opened the press conference with a statement reiterating the government’s refusal to negotiate “with the so-called PLO.” He said the reason was that the PLO has “never hidden their aim to destroy Israel. They are repeating the same statements today.” Asked whether that attitude did not contradict Israel’s policy, repeated over the years, to meet with any Arab leader under any conditions, Allon replied that whereas the Arab countries have agreed to Security Council resolutions recognizing Israel’s right to exist, the PLO has never done so and cannot be a partner for talks.

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