Dinitz Warns on Autonomy Offer

Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, in a farewell appearance before the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, warned that Israel’s offer of autonomy to Palestinian Arabs could become the embryo of a Palestinian state unless Israel retains “two essential safety valves–its defense forces in the administered territories and the right of continued Jewish settlements there.

“Without these two vital protections,” he continued, “Israel risks a return to the 1967 borders and a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza. Those who applaud Israel for its generous and forthcoming offer of self-rule to the Palestinian Arabs–more control over their own lives than they have ever known–must understand that this offer cannot be separated from the vital safeguards that accompanied it.”

Dinitz stressed; “There must be no confusion about the matter, nor any ‘selective hearing’ about what Israel has said. Prime Minister Begin’s government has made its position absolutely clear: autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs, yes– but also, for Israel, the right to keep its defense forces in the territories and the right of continued Jewish settlement there.”

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