JERUSALEM (Sep. 15)
Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan left for the U.S. this morning as disquiet mounted in Israel over the latest pronouncements by the State Department on prospective Middle East peace talks. Dayan will confer with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and will meet with President Carter at the White House Monday. He will convey to them the draft of an Israeli peace plan prepared by top level government lawyers and diplomats and approved by the Cabinet last Sunday.
But Dayan’s mission has been overshadowed by the State Department’s announcement in Washington last Monday that Palestinian participation is a “must” at the Geneva conference. It was an unequivocal statement. It said, in part:
“Along with the issues of the nature of peace, recognition, security and borders, the status of the Palestinians must be settled in a comprehensive Arab-Israeli agreement. This issue cannot be ignored if the others are to be solved. Moreover, to be lasting, a peace agreement must be positively supported by all the parties to the conflict, including the Palestinians. This means that the Palestinians must be involved in the peacemaking process. Their representatives will have to be at Geneva for the Palestinian question to be solved.”
NOT NECESSARILY A WARNING
The U.S. subsequently assured Israel that the statement did not necessarily apply to the Palestine Liberation Organization. But Israeli fears were not allayed. Dayan told newsmen last night that the timing of the statement need not be construed as a warning to him to come up with some new, far-reaching procedural proposal to overcome the problem of Palestinian representation. Nevertheless, the Foreign Ministry promptly issued a rejoinder that Israel intends to remain adamant on that question. (See related story P. 3)
Addressing reporters at Ben Gurion Airport prior to his departure today, Dayan said, “On the face of it may seem procedural but in fact it is the most vital issue of substance. We have not changed and have no intention of changing, ” he declared.
He said that Israel did not regard the PLO as a possible negotiating partner even if it accepted Resolution 242. With respect to non-PLO Palestinians “with whom we want to negotiate, ” Dayan reiterated that Israel would refuse to accept them as a separate delegation to the Geneva talks “because this would mean a step toward recognizing the ultimate creation of a Palestinian state or entity.”
(According to reports from Washington today, the State Department believes that the best way to overcome the obstacles to the Geneva conference is for Israel to negotiate with a unified pan-Arab delegation that would include Palestinians who accept Israel’s right to exist Israel’s position up to now is that it would negotiate separate peace treaties with each of the confrontation states–Egypt, Syria and Jordan–and would deal separately with the non-PLO Palestinian leadership on the West Bank outside of the Geneva context.)
ELEMENTS OF PEACE PLAN
The peace plan Dayan is taking to Washington is the first written draft submitted by Israel to a foreign government. It is believed to offer substantial territorial withdrawals in the Sinai and lesser pull-backs on the Golan Heights within the frame-work of a general peace settlement. On the West Bank, however, the government is committed not to suffer “foreign rule” which would seem to rule out any territorial concessions. Dayan stressed before his departure that “our plan is based on principles” and does not include any maps.
Dayan himself has advanced proposals for a West Bank solution in terms of a “functional arrangement” that would grant wide autonomy to the Arab population while leaving Israel in military occupation of the West Bank for reasons of security. The Dayan plan was not formally approved by the government and it is not clear whether the Foreign Minister was empowered to air his ideas in Washington. It was learned from reliable sources that Dayan did not ask for such a mandate at last Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. But he could hardly refuse to discuss his own publicly stated plan if the Americans bring it up, it was noted.
Dayan’s meetings with U.S. officials next week will begin a round of talks between Secretary Vance and Middle East foreign ministers. He will meet with Dayan’s Arab counterparts later this month in Washington and at the UN General Assembly in New York. The U.S. has reportedly asked the Arab governments to produce drafts of their own peace proposals to serve as the basis for negotiations but so far none is known to have prepared such a draft.
Reports persisted today that Dayan would meet with one or more Arab foreign ministers at the UN but there was no official confirmation that such contacts are planned. Premier Menachem Begin said earlier this week that there was “some chance” that Dayan would meet with at least one Arab minister. The official Middle East News Agency in Cairo has denied that Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy plans to meet with Dayan.