Rabin, at the Socialist Conference, Outlines Israel’s Attitude Toward Lebanon, Calls for Early Genev
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Rabin, at the Socialist Conference, Outlines Israel’s Attitude Toward Lebanon, Calls for Early Genev

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Premier Yitzhak Rabin of Israel defined his country’s policy toward Lebanon today as one of non-intervention in its domestic affairs while safeguarding Israel’s security. He called for an early resumption of the Geneva conference for Middle East peace and proposed that it be modeled on the European Security Conference held at Helsinki in the summer of 1975.

Rabin, who is attending the 13th conference of the Socialist International, made his remarks in a speech to the delegates yesterday and at a press conference here this morning. Since his arrival at Geneva Tuesday, Rabin has been meeting with world Socialist leaders, among them Chancellor Bruno Kreisky of Austria, Mario Suarez of Portugal, Felipe Gonzales, head of Spain’s Socialist Party and President Leopold Senghor of Senegal.

The meeting with Senghor was the first between an Israeli Premier and the chief of state of a Black African nation since the Yom Kippur War. He also conferred with West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former Chancellor Willy Brandt.

The Israeli leader, who was elected one of the Socialist International’s 15 vice-presidents, was warmly received by his fellow delegates representing some 50 Socialist or Social-Democratic parties throughout the world. His formal speech, the highlight of yesterday’s session, was widely viewed as Israel’s reply to the current Arab peace offensive, notably the recent statements made by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.


Rabin said that Israel was prepared to discuss territorial readjustments. “We do not consider existing lines as final, de facto realities,” he declared. But he made it clear that a Middle East peace conference “must not attempt the impossible through a futile illusion that history can be put back.” He also stressed that only the heads of the sovereign governments in that region and the two major powers–the U.S. and the Soviet Union–should attend.

Israel is ready, Rabin said, for renewal of the Geneva conference which could become “the Helsinki of the Arab-Israeli dispute.” The “purpose, pattern, composition, agenda and principles” of the Helsinki talks “all have application (at Geneva) in spirit if not exactly in letter,” he declared. At his press conference today, Rabin proposed that “the concept, mechanics and procedure used in the Helsinki talks should be used in the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Referring to the more immediate situation in Lebanon, he told newsmen that Israel “will not tolerate the presence of Syrian forces in south Lebanon nor will it allow this area to be used for terrorist purposes as it was in the past.” He said “the best solution is for a Lebanese independent force to be stationed” in that region.

Rabin called the Lebanese civil war “a national tragedy” and pointed out that more Palestinians were killed by Syrian forces in a few months of fighting than by Israeli forces in the 28 years of Israel’s existence. He urged Arab leaders “to stop negotiating with the news media and visitors and start negotiating with the parties to the dispute.”


The conference of the Socialist International is regarded as vitally important for Israel on two levels. It provided a world forum for Rabin to present Israel’s views on Middle East peace and other global problems and an opportunity for the Israeli Premier to solidify his relationship with Socialist leaders, some of whom presently govern their countries.

Rabin’s private meeting with Chancellor Kreisky lasted an hour and 40 minutes. Afterwards, they told reporters that the “atmosphere has been cleared,” a reference to the recently strained relations between the two men. Rabin has a standing invitation to visit Austria and Kreisky was invited to attend the Israeli Labor Party Congress in February.

Rabin’s meeting with Senghor was described as “friendly and frank” although the two leaders expressed different ideas about possible solutions to the Middle East conflict. Senghor repeated what he said earlier in the week that “the only solution” was in talks between Israelis and Palestinians leading to the creation of a Palestinian state that would co-exist peacefully with Israel and possibly eventually form a confederation with the Jewish State.

Rabin stressed Israel’s security problems. He said Israel desired to negotiate with the Arabs on the basis of Security Council Resolution 242–meaning with the Arab states–but could not talk with Palestinian terrorist organizations.


Rabin’s meetings with the Socialist leaders of the two Iberian countries elicited pledges to strengthen their ties with Israel. Suarez of Portugal assured Rabin that he was determined to normalize relations between the two nations. Gonzales told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency after his meeting with Rabin that he had promised the full support of Spain’s opposition Socialist Party for the establishment of full diplomatic relations with Israel. He also said he would visit Israel in February.

Israeli circles here have reason to be satisfied with the Socialist International conference. The “Bureau” of the International decided to continue its activities to find compromise formulas to settle the Israeli-Arab dispute. Kreisky will take responsibility for Middle East affairs, though, he told the JTA, his field of activity does not include Israel. “I shall deal mainly with the Arab states,” he said, adding that “Israel is a full organization’s committees and other bodies in a normal capacity as a full member.”

Israeli sources said they were “pleased” with this arrangement. They also expressed satisfaction with the International’s refusal to accept the representatives of five Arab countries either as members or consulting advisors. The sources claimed that this was only right since none of the five countries–Algeria. Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Syria–were either independent or socialist.


Another cause for satisfaction among the Israelis was the resolution drafted by the international’s Bureau and adopted by the conference. Before leaving Geneva today, Rabin told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that he was “highly satisfied” with the conference’s work and especially the Middle East resolution which, he said, was close to Israel’s position.

The resolution affirms Israel’s right to exist within secure borders and calls for resumption of the Geneva conference with the original participants. It does not mention the Palestinians directly or indirectly. Only Senegal and Malta expressed “misgivings” over the failure to include the Palestinians but they did not vote against the resolution.

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