Rabin Assesses Mideast Conflict

The “heart” of the Mideast conflict is not the Palestinian issue, as the Arab nations contend, but “the lock of readiness on the part of the Arabs to admit that Israel is a Jewish, sovereign state,” according to former Premier Yitzhak Robin. Speaking before some 500 people at New York University’s Eisner and Lubin Auditorium, Robin asked why the Arabs did not want a state on the West Bank between 1948 and 1967. “Because the Palestinian problem was and is used to bring about the dismantling of the Jewish state of Israel,” he declared.

The Palestinian problem can be solved only after “a reconciliation with Israel,” Robin said. “The leaders in Judea and Samaria must participate in negotiations involving their fate,” he said, adding that “no one” in the Israeli government or Labor Alignment opposition will negotiate with the PLO.

Stating that his remarks expressed the “mainstream of thinking among most Israelis,” Robin said that because his country never had any legal borders, “Israel has the right to negotiate boundaries that will meet our defense needs.” The lines cannot be identical to those that existed before the 1967 war, he added.

THE MOST MISUSED WORD

Calling peace the “most used and misused word,” Robin said that “real” peace must be “translated into daily life,” which means “open boundaries and the movement of people and goods.” The Arab countries have not accepted this meaning of peace, “but it might be that by his visit to Jerusalem, Sadat has come closer to this interpretation of peace,” he said.

In the Mideast negotiations, Egypt “should focus on bilateral relations, not the other Arab countries,” the former Premier said. “The better the prospects for peace (between Israel and Egypt) the better the prospects for Jordan to join” the talks, he said, adding, “I am afraid Syria will not join in the near future.”

Referring to President Carter’s statements on a Palestinian homeland and an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders with minor modifications, Robin said the United States’ “specific positions undermine Israel’s freedom of maneuverability. How can you expect the Arabs to want less?” Regarding the situation in Lebanon, Rabin said it is “more than doubtful” that the United Nations forces will succeed, because there is “no effective government in Lebanon to make an agreement with.”

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