JERUSALEM (Aug. 10)
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance still hopes that the Geneva conference will be convened this year. Speaking at a press conference in Jerusalem today at the end of his two-day visit to Israel, Vance expressed that hope although admitting “he would have liked to make more progress,” and that “sharp differences still existed between the parties.” (See related story.)
It was evident from Vance’s statements that the existing gaps on the key issues were not bridged during this visit. The best he could say on the positive side was that the visit was useful, in that “we have been able to get into much more detail on the substance of the issues.”
Vance said: “We have found that in some cases what appeared to be irreconcilable differences, have disappeared. My hope is that if we can continue to deal more concretely with the specifics, we will find it possible to further narrow these differences, and isolate those key issues where it is impossible to narrow the gap.” But he added, “the fundamental differences remain. The parties remain divided on the key issues–which must be resolved if progress must be made toward a settlement.”
MAIN POINT OF CONTENTION
The main point of contention was the question of a Palestinian representation at the Geneva talks. So far, Vance said, there has been no change that indicates that the Palestine Liberation Organization is willing to accept UN Security Council Resolution 242 and specifically the recognition of Israel’s right to exist. As long as this is not done, the United States will not talk to the PLO, he said. “If they recognize Israel’s right to exist, we will talk to them,” he added.
Vance did not rule out the possibility that when he meets with the foreign ministers of the Mideast countries in New York next month, the U.S. would also talk to the PLO assuming that by then the PLO would have changed its negative position on Resolution 242. In response to a question, he said the Israelis did not indicate that in that case, they would refrain from participating in the New York talks.
As far as the Israelis are concerned, “they have made it very, very clear to me that they oppose a Palestinian entity,” Vance said. Therefore, he said, the question of Palestinian representation at the Geneva conference remains one of the unresolved issues. “I cannot predict how it will be resolved,” he stated.
NO IMPOSED SETTLEMENT
Vance said the U.S. did not intend to impose a settlement, but wanted to assist Israel and the Arab countries in reaching an agreement. Thus, the U.S. presented proposals which, Vance said, would narrow the procedural and substantive differences between the parties. “We have sought reaction of the various parties to these proposals and we have now set forward the basis which we believe should be the framework for the Geneva conference.”
He said the U.S. would discourage any attempt to amend 242 as the PLO might demand. “Our commitment to the security of Israel is clear and unequivocal, and we will continue to furnish Israel with what is necessary to preserve its security,” he said. Vance stated that he would meet with Anatoly Dobrynin, the Soviet Ambassador to the U.S., to inform him of his tour “and discuss how we, as co-chairmen, can proceed to Geneva.”