JERUSALEM (Jul. 8)
The mainstream political community in Israel, embracing the government and the Labor Party opposition, reacted with uniform indignation and dismay over the meeting that Chancellor Bruno Kreisky of Austria and Willy Brandt, chairman of West Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party, had with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat in Vienna this weekend. Kreisky told a news conference in Vienna today that the 10 hours of discussion over a period of three days between the three men had been “very, very informative.”
Arafat was invited by Kreisky in the Chancellor’s capacity as vice president of the Socialist International. Brandt, former Chancellor of West Germany, is president of the Socialist International Arafat’s visit was not announced in advance and was a surprise to reporters in Vienna. It was his first official visit to the West since he addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 1974.
The Cabinet today “empowered the Foreign Ministry” to summon home Israel’s Ambassador to Austria “for consultations” as a mark of protest. Yosef Ciechanover, the Director General of the Foreign Ministry, called in the Austrian charged affaires to deliver an expression of Israel’s strong protest at Kreisky’s action.
BEGIN, PERES DRAFT STATEMENT
Shimon Peres, chairman of the opposition Labor Party joined with Premier Menachem Begin in drafting a statement condemning the meeting, which will be presented to a special session of the Knesset tomorrow. Peres noted that negation of the PLO is the national consensus in Israel. He told a meeting of the Labor Party Bureau this afternoon that the party would raise the matter at the next meeting of the Socialist International. Meanwhile, Kreisky and Brandt stated that the Socialist International will have more talks with the PLO irrespective of previous decisions to the contrary.
Only the leftist two-man Sheli faction consisting of Meir Payil and Uri Avneri welcomed the Vienna meeting as a possible break through in the comprehensive peace process. Another Sheli leader, Gen. (res.) Mattityahu Peled, who has himself met with PLO leaders at various times in Europe, said that what transpired in Vienna was beyond proper proportions.
But Peled said on a radio interview today that he assumed the Kreisky-Brandt meeting with Arafat had been arranged on the basis of new pledges by Arafat to make public statements either recognizing Israel or accepting UN Security Council Resolution 242. For that reason, Peled said he welcomed the meeting as a hopeful sign.
KREISKY ATTACKS ISRAEL
Maariv published an interview today with Kreisky from its Vienna correspondent, Menahem Oberbaum, in which the Austrian Chancellor asserted that the analogy between Israel’s policies and those of South Africa was at the focus of the tripartite meeting in Vienna.
“At a meeting like this, one discusses a broad spectrum of issues,” Kreisky said. “One speaks of the morel bases or Judaism and to the same extent one speaks of the bombing of Lebanese villages and its consequences. One speaks of the extraordinary arrogance with which Israel behaves. Obviously–and this should be clear to you — the central idea of these talks tends towards the comparison between Israel and South Africa. There is a position (which maintains) that Israel intends to set up a “Bantustan” on the West Bank – i.e., an area of Arab population which would in effect be bereft of rights, with Israeli-control over all the area’s resources.”
Kreisky said that he personally was convinced that the PLO leadership did not (still) hold the view that Israel had no right to exist. “I am sure the PLO does not believe in the destruction of Israel,” he said. He said the meeting had evolved out of a prolonged correspondence between himself and Arafat, a correspondence during which he had written his own unequivocally negative opinion regarding some of the PLO positions.
Arafat was welcomed by Kreisky and Minister of Interior Erwin Lane on his arrival from Sofia in a special plane of the Bulgarian Airline. In a short statement Arafat rejected the idea of negotiations with Israel and said the Palestinian problem can only be solved within the United Nations.
Political commentators in Jerusalem believe that Brandt and Kreisky will launch a new initiative to spur the current round of negotiations on Palestinian autonomy between Israel, Egypt and the United States.
Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan met Kreisky on Friday during a stop in Vienna. Jordan and the Palestinians have declined to take part in the autonomy talks on grounds that the Camp David agreements do not meet their demand for total Israeli withdrawal.