CHICAGO (Nov. 14)
Aharon Yariv, Israel’s Information Minister. told a press, conference here today that Israel had hoped for political engagement after the disengagement agreements with Egypt and Syria, but this possibility had been changed by the Arab summit conference at Rabat which recognized the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole representative of the Palestinians and by the United Nations approval of PLO head Yasir Arafat at the General Assembly.
In a statement and in reply to questions afterwards, Yariv also said there was now no one for Israel to negotiate with. Raymond Epstein, president of the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Funds, now holding its 43rd General Assembly here, presided at the press conference.
Yariv said Israel could not negotiate with Arafat because of his call for a “democratic state.” a Palestine without Israel, He said Israel seeks a middle ground, however narrow, to start an effort to negotiate, even with territorial concessions. He said Israel had intended to negotiate with Jordan but that this was not now possible.
When he was asked whether he believed there would be another Mideast war, he said that if there is no political movement by December or January, the danger of war would grow because the Arabs feel powerful and are secure in support from the Soviet Union, both politically and militarily based on their philosophy of “what is taken by force must be retaken by force.”
Asked whether the anti-Semitic and anti-Israel remarks by Gen. George S. Brown, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, would affect relations between the United States and Israel. Yariv replied that President Ford was the chief spokesman of the United States and that was sufficient. Yariv declared that Israel was always ready to talk to the Arabs but that they “don’t want us there.” He said the Palestinians have a land on Jordan’s east and west banks and that while Israel has no objection to their self-determination, Israel would not negotiate itself out of existence.
Yariv declared that Israel had tried to avoid a new war. Asked if, should there be a new war, Israel would try to take Damascus and Cairo, he said he could not discuss operational plans at such a forum but cited the principle that no peace is gained by military victory but only by the process of recognition and negotiation. A military victory, he added, only teaches the opposite side that war does not pay. Asked about a first strike by Israel, he said only that Israel was prepared.