WASHINGTON (Oct. 28)
A three-day symposium on the Middle East and Israeli-Arab relations, sponsored by the Israeli monthly New Outlook, opened here last night with a reported registered attendance of some 600 persons from a half dozen countries, including a lone representative of the Arab population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. That spokes person, the poet and feminist, Raymonda Tawil, came to explain why Arabs in those territories who were invited to the symposium had declined to attend.
She said that the reasons included “uncertainty and confusion generated by living under the occupation”; the denial of exit permits for the mayors of Nablus and Gaza to attend a Palestinian Arab conference here last month; and “rumors” that they as well as others were to be refused exit permits and that the State Department has “rebuffed” visas to the U.S. “for some PLO Palestinians living abroad.”
In addition, she said “most mayors thought” that their attendance at the symposium would be interpreted as approval of the Camp David agreements.
JTA INTERVIEWS TAWIL
In an interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency shortly after she delivered her explanation on why the Palestinian mayors on the West Bank and Gaza are not attending the symposium, Tawil, a leader of the activists, said that she favored a two-stage solution of the Israeli-Palestinian Arab issue. She said that Israel would have to withdraw to its pre-1967 lines and the Palestinian Arabs would take over the territory, including East Jerusalem and Mr. Scopus. She said that “all of us” (Palestinian Arabs) oppose the Camp David accords.
Tawil, who was wearing a gold pendant with the word “Palestine,” read a prepared statement in which she said that “we Palestinians fully support every effort to bring a just and lasting peace with Israel on the basis of mutual recognition of national rights and which would enable the Palestinian rights to self-determination and independence to be fulfilled.”
Saying “we whole-heartedly support the peace movement in Israel and extend to it our hand in friendship,” Tawil sketched “a brief outline of a transition program of constructive Israeli action which would help in breaking the long-standing hostility between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Such Israeli initiatives should include,” she said, “a moratorium on all Israeli settlements occupied by Israel beginning in June 1967 and a reversal of land purchase policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” She also called for the “right of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza for unrestricted internal dialogue and debate on the future of the West Bank and Gaza and its relationship to its neighbors” and the “right of the Palestinians to choose their own representatives.”
Other Israeli initiatives, Tawil said, would include infrastructures and permit Palestinian expatriates “to return and participate as catalysts in the process.”
Hermann Eilts, a retired career diplomat whose last post was U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, told the opening session at the International Inn that the “basic miscalculation” of President Carter in working out the Camp David accords was “the assumption” that Israel would freeze, or partially freeze the establishment of settlements on the West Bank, but this proved to be untrue within two days of the signing of the agreements. Another “miscalculation, “he said, was that Saudi Arabia would embrace the accords and that King Hassan of Morocco would join the peace process.
Eilts stated that to rectify these “miscalculations” the U.S. must keep the peace process going and support a Palestinian state with the authority to “govern in all aspects, including its own security. ” He said the U.S. government must also “find a way to enter a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization “in order to test its bonafideness,” its willingness to enter into the peace process.
Others attending the conference were two journalists representing the East Jerusalem Arabic newspaper, El Fajr, about six Israeli Arabs and some 20 Palestinian Arabs from outside the region, and from the U.S., Israel, England, France, West Germany and Italy. Lord Caradon, the British representative to the UN when Security Council Resolution 242’was drafted, chaired the session.