U.S. Moving Toward Including Palestinians in Peace Talks

The Carter Administration has officially opened the door for “Palestinians” in Jerusalem Lebanon and wherever else they may be living to enter the Israeli-Egyptian-U.S. peace process related to the West Bank and Gaza. The Administration did not specifically name Jerusalem in making known its decision Friday but said that talks are to begin by the U.S. officious with “a number of Palestinians both inside and outside of the West Bank and Gaza.”

Since all of Jerusalem-including East Jerusalem-has been port of Israel since 1967, the U.S. decision not to exclude the holy city explicitly is certain to create serious U.S. Israeli difficulties.

The Carter Administration decision came in response to on “urgent Saudi Arabian call in Riyadh for the U.S. to start “an immediate dialogue” with the Palestine Liberation Organization. The Administration reiterated however it will continue its long standing conditions against talk with the PLO itself. The U.S. decision on the widened scope of its “talks” became known when the Jewish Telegraphic Agency inquired at the State Department about the Saudi suggestion in a newspaper report.

Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Fahd suggested in Riyadh that U.S.- PLO talks could lead to the PLO accepting Security Council Resolution 242 and acknowledge Israel’s right to exist. These are requirements set down by President Carter before U.S. talks begin with the PLO. The PLO receives major financial support from Saudi Arabia where tens of thousands of Palestinians occupy important positions in the oil rich country’s petroleum industry and thus have a grip on the country’s economy and security.

In an interview with New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, Fahd stated “it is incumbent on the U.S. to talk to the PLO because it is a, if not the, political fact in the conflict. It is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”

U.S. UNDERSTANDS FAHD’S CONCERN

” We understand Crown Prince Fahd’s concern that the legitimate rights of the Palestinians must be dealt with as port of any comprehensive peace,” the State Department said in a prepared statement in response to questions from the JTA.

“The question is the central focus in the negotiations now underway,” the Department added. “As you know, both the Camp David frameworks and the letters by President (Anwar) Sadat and Prime Minister Begin sent to President Carter March 26 call for Palestinian participation in these negotiations.”

” We desire that participation and will continue to work for it in the days ahead,” the State Department added. “In this conjunction, obviously we will be talking to a number of Palestinians both inside and outside the West Bank and Gaza.”

Asked whether going ” outside” the areas under Israel’s administration would include the PLO, the State Department said, ” We understand the role of the PLO in the Arab world, Our position has been spelled out a number of times by the President and Secretary of State It remains as we have stated it.”

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