The role of the Palestinians in the Middle East peace process received widespread attention over the weekend. Donald McHenry, named by President Carter to succeed Andrew Young as United States Ambassador to the United Nations, said it is necessary “to find some kind of way of including Palestinians in the search for peace” as the Camp David agreements propose Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi Ovodia Yosef said that Israel “should talk with the Palestinians.” Israeli Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin also said that Israel must talk with the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Addressing a news conference at the U.S. Mission to the UN last Friday, Mchenry, a 42 year-old career diplomat who had been Young’s deputy, said he believed that some progress in bringing Palestinians into the peace process will be made in the future, but added that how to do this is still a “riddle.”
PARRIES PLO ISSUE
The Black diplomat declined to say whether he would meet with the Palestine Liberation Organization, as Young had, but he lauded the former envoy and said he too might find it necessary to take actions that are against State Department policy “We all have to follow the dictates of our conscience, McHenry said, adding that every Ambassador “faces a point when he has to decide how a particular policy goal” is best implemented. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance admonished Young for meeting with the PLO observer at the UN and reiterated U.S. policy of not talking with the PLO until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist and accepts UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
McHenry indicated indirectly that he agreed with Young’s assessment that it is foolish for. the U.S. to refuse to talk with PLO representatives. However he was careful not to mention the PLO where he said that the Camp David accords make it clear that the U.S. will have to find some way of including the Palestinians in the search for Mideast peace.
On another issue, McHenry, whose nomination must be approved by the Senate, said he hoped his appointment was on the basis of his qualities and not because of his color or as a tactic to ease tensions between Blacks and Jews following Young’s resignation. “Having said that,” he added, “it is my hope and expectation that all Americans, regardless of race, color or creed, can work together in this great society we have.”
MUST SPEAK WITH PALESTINIANS
Yadin, in discussing the Palestinians, told Israel Radio yesterday that “we cannot expect to make any breakthroughs on the autonomy plan or any other plan if we do not speak with the residents living in the areas (West Bank and Gaza Strip) to which the plan addresses itself.” But, he stressed, “this does not mean we should consent to speak with Persons who say they are speaking on behalf of the PLO. On that we have a government decision.”
Yosef, in an interview last Friday with the French daily, Le Matin, also rejected the idea that Israel should talk with PLO representatives and observed: “There are Palestinians who do not want to make peace with us and who refuse to accept out presence here (in Israel). But there are others who are ready to recognize us. One should speak with them. There is no other possible solution.”
ARAB LEADERS ON PALESTINIAN STATE
In a related development, Carter told Florida newspaper editors in an interview last Thursday in Plains, Go. that “I have never met an Arab Leader that in private professed a desire for an independent Palestinian state. Publicly, they all espouse an independent Palestinian state, almost all of them because that is what they committed themselves to at Rabat” in 1974 where Arab heads of state achieve the PLO as representing the Palestinians. But Carter added, “the private diplomatic tone of conversations is much more proper than is often alleged by the press and others.”
Commenting on speculation that Saudi Arabia would decrease or half entirely its oil shipments to the U.S. unless the Palestinian issue is resolved Carter stated that no Arab nor any other foreign leader had tried to use oil supply as blackmail since he has been in the White House.
Meanwhile, the Security Council ended its debate last Thursday night on the situation in south Lebanon. Young, who was Council President for August, appealed “for restraint on the part of all concerned so hostilities can be brought to an end.” Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, in an address to the Council, also appealed to all parties to cease hostilities and achieve peace. He said he appreciated Israel’s concern for the safety of its citizens but added: “I do not believe that the policy of preemptive strikes on targets in Lebanon is acceptable or indeed is justified by the circumstances now prevailing.”
No resolution was introduced during the two-day debate which was convened at the request of Lebanon.