JERUSALEM (Sep. 13)
Foreign Minister Yigal Allon predicted renewed efforts at reestablishing a Mideast negotiating momentum in the early part of 1977, once the American elections and Presidential inauguration had been completed. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, he said Israel had been ready to continue the diplomatic process during the current year, but events in Lebanon and the American electoral process had effectively prevented this.
Israel’s own elections, scheduled for the end of 1977 need not interfere with the diplomatic process nor impinge upon Israel’s readiness and willingness to negotiate, Allon insisted.
He conceded that for the few months immediately prior to the elections, Israel’s leadership would naturally be enveloped in its own democratic process, but for the months prior to that, the first half of 1977, Israel would be anticipating renewed diplomatic efforts–whichever party won the Presidential election in the U.S. Allon praised the U.S. middleman role in the past and said he hoped America would resume these efforts.
Allon said he hoped the Palestine Liberation Organization’s discomfiture in Lebanon would give rise to “new thinking” within the Arab world even among those Arab states which still gave the PLO tactical support. He said a “disappointment” with the PLO was detectable throughout the Arab world.
UPCOMING GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION ASSESSED
Foreshadowing the upcoming UN General Assembly, Allon said that in addition to the now regular attacks from the Arabs and their fellow travelers, Israel expected this year an “automatic” vote by the Assembly majority approving the report of the “Committee of Twenty,” which was set up by last year’s Assembly to investigate the Palestinian problem.
The 20, only four of which have diplomatic ties with Israel, recommended a pro-PLO solution–“a national authority” in Israel-evacuated areas, the return of refugees to their homes, and an international court of justice to investigate Israel’s handling of absentee property. The report was vetoed by the U.S. at a Security Council session.
Another possible danger facing Israel at this year’s Assembly would be an Arab-Third World attempt to “represent Israel as supporting apartheid.” Allon stressed the hypocrisy of this, pointing out that Israel’s ties with South Africa were no different than those of the majority of the world’s nations–including the Black African nations. He said he favored expanding trade and other ties with Pretoria, stressing that this by no means implied any approval of apartheid, a policy which Israel in fact could not accept.
Allon admitted that Israel had acceded to Syria’s demand that no reporters be present on Wednesday, when Golan Druze will be allowed to meet at a new opening in the security fence between Syria and Israel. Undoubtedly, said the Foreign Minister, Syria feared the publicity would enhance Israel’s image and had therefore insisted on no publicity. But in the long run, Allon said, Israel’s very readiness to forego this tactical public relations achievement would redound to its credit in world opinion.
HARD LINE ON KADDUM ISSUE
On the Kaddum issue, Allon said pointedly the execution of the Cabinet decision was not in his hands, but in those of Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres. He said he hoped it would be implemented,” the sooner the better.” The settlers should be offered a take-it-or-leave-it alternative, and if they refused, they should then be ordered to vacate Kaddum. If they refused this–and Allon said he believed that, as law-abiding citizens they would not refuse–the government should then use the “means at its disposal” to get them out.
In a not-so-veiled swipe at Peres, Allon flayed Cabinet ministers who “undermine” the position of the Premier at this time by indicating that they intend to run against him for the party leadership and Premier. He termed such behavior “unethical–and I could use even stronger language.” It was much too early, he said, for “personal politicking to begin.”
Allon dodged a question whether he himself would fight for the leadership. Most observers believe he will not, but will support Rabin, and will, at any event, throw his entire weight and influence behind the anti-Peres forces within Labor in an all-out effort to prevent a Peres premiership.