UNITED NATIONS (Dec. 2)
Israel declared today that it is prepared to enter into negotiations “at any moment without any preconditions whatsoever” with its Arab neighbors but that it would negotiate only on the basis of recognition of Israel’s sovereign rights, would accept no dictates from any quarter and “we will not negotiate our own suicide.”
In a firm, but generally conciliatory address on the second day of the General Assembly’s Middle East debate, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Chaim Herzog, called on the Arab states “to rise above the hate, bitterness and intransigence of their words, to liberate themselves from the chains of their slogans and to join with us in setting out together along the road toward peace and a better life in the Middle East.”
Herzog observed that the issue in the Middle East is not the question of territory or the question of the Palestinians, “although these are both important.” It is, he said, “a change of heart with respect to Israel on the part of the Arab countries. Until that change is achieved, no meaningful advance can really be attained in the Middle East.”
NEGOTIATIONS, YES, DICTATES, NO
The Israeli envoy said that while Israel is ready to negotiate, it will not accept dictates of any kind. He reiterated Israel’s position that progress toward peace can be made in the framework laid down by Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. He said that if the purpose of the present General Assembly debate is to develop a process of negotiations without preconditions, Israel would cooperate in every way.
Herzog warned, however, that if the purpose of the debate and other UN meetings is to pass “purposeless, one-sided resolutions and create a situation whereby the Security Council or the General Assembly will attempt to impose a solution…Israel’s attitude toward this proposition (is) forget it.”
Herzog declared, “We will not be a party to any attempt to dictate to us.” He observed that it would be “wiser” and “logical” to ask the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization whether or not the PLO accepts the resolutions laid down by the Security Council as the basis for negotiations and whether they are prepared to renounce their declared policy calling for the destruction of a member state of the UN.
He noted that many UN delegates “blithely express themselves on the question of the representation of the PLO at Geneva or even at meetings of the Security Council.” But, Herzog asked, how could Israel be asked to negotiate “with people whose open, avowed policy is to destroy our existence?”