A Leading Israeli ‘hawk’ Urges Israel to Negotiate with Any Palestinian Group, Including the PLO

One of the leading “hawks” of Israel’s academic community has urged Israel to negotiate with any Palestinian group, including the PLO, that renounces terrorism and accepts the existence of Israel.

Prof. Yehoshafat Harkabi, an authority on international relations and Middle Eastern affairs, expressed that view in a telephone radio interview from the United States where he is presently on sabbatical leave. He also questioned the official Israeli view that the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank would pose a mortal peril to Israel and advance Soviet penetration into the Middle East.

Harkabi, a former chief of army intelligence and, until recently, an advisor to Defense Minister Shimon Peres, has always supported a tough line in Israel’s foreign policy dealings with the Arabs. He is now apparently adopting the position of two of the leading Labor Party “doves” in the Knesset, former Communications Minister Aharon Yariv and Yitzhak Navon, chairman of the Knesset’s foreign affairs and security committee.

NOTES TACTICAL ADVANTAGE

In his interview, broadcast over the weekend, Harkabi maintained that it would be to Israel’s tactical advantage to offer to negotiate with the PLO. He said such an offer would face the PLO with the choice of abandoning its “covenant” for the dismemberment of Israel or lose the image of “moderation” it has managed to cultivate at international forums. “The time has come for us to be more sophisticated in our tactics.” Harkabi said.

He also contended that it was a mistake for Israel to consistently reject the idea of a Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan. According to Harkabi, such a state would eventually become part of Jordan because that is where the lines of communications would have to run. The main problem of a Palestinian state would be its own viability, he said.

Harkabi’s remarks were bitterly attacked by Likud in the column published by that faction in Haaretz today. Noting that similar views were recently raised in the Knesset by Prof. Shlomo Avineri, Likud described Harkabi’s interview as the “second lecture within one week on the necessity to tear from the Jewish people’s sovereignty parts of its homeland, an act which would inflict unforeseeable dangers.”

In the past several weeks a number of influential “doves” in the Labor Party and the Labor Alignment have urged the government to change its attitude toward the issue of talking to any Palestinians who renounce terrorism and accept the sovereignty of Israel. These include Abba Eban, Victor Shemtov, Avraham Ofer, Yitzhak Ben Aharon. Others outside the government include Arie Eliav, Res. Gen. Matti Peled and David Shaham.

NEXT STORY