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New Outlook Symposium Ends with a Controversial Summation

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The three-day symposium sponsored by the Israeli monthly New Outlook ended last night with a controversial “summation” by the magazine’s editors and a statement by a West Bank Arab activist demanding negotiations at a Geneva conference.

At a press conference at the conclusion of the symposium, editor-in-chief Simha Flapan read a statement that said: “All participants were unanimous in their view that peace can be obtained only on the basis of the right of self-determination of both peoples within the framework of co-existence and that the policy of annexation and the establishment of Jewish settlements on the West Bank must be stopped.”

Flapan said he derived “the policy of annexation” from former Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s statement last Friday that the Israeli government was taking that approach. Questioning this, reporters noted to Flapan that Dayan had actually said only that he “thinks” the government’s policy is in that direction and that the State Department said yesterday that it is not “aware” of any such Israeli policy.

Briefing the press last Thursday on the purposes of the symposium, Flapan had stressed that no resolutions would be made on behalf of the symposium, and that there would be no voting. He repeated in his statement yesterday that “New Outlook insists on having no resolutions because of the diversity of views of its participants.”

Under questioning, Flapan said his “summation” was “unanimously” accepted on the basis of “applause” he received and the absence of dissent He gave no indication of how many of the participants applauded nor did he identify them. When word of his “summation” went beyond the press conference room, a score of participants still on the premises entered and indicated protest against the summation. Observers indicated that the summation appeared to be in violation of New Outlook’s ground rules for the symposium because it was tantamount to a resolution.

In the final words of the press conference, Raymonda Tawil, a West Bank Arab poet and feminist, declared, in English, that “The Palestine Liberation Organization is the sole representative” of the Palestinian Arabs, that she is for an “independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital,” and that the “Palestinians are freedom fighters, not terrorists,” and that “they will fight autonomy and the Camp David accords until peace is achieved” and “all the forces are in Geneva with the Soviet Union and all parties including the PLO.”

Tawil’s statement seemed to surprise the three New Outlook editors but they did not comment on it. Her final statement seemed to nullify her previous views. She had, earlier at the symposium, submitted a program for “constructive Israeli action” which, she said, “would help in breaking the long-standing hostility between Israelis and Palestinians and begin to establish the needed trust for mutual recognition.”

In his statement, Flapan echoed the calls by many participants for American Jews to take sides in the debate on Israeli policies. Referring to the discussion in the symposium between “delegates of Israel’s peace community and American Jewish leaders,” Flapan said. “there were moments of tension in the debate” but he hoped “they were a catharsis that would strengthen cooperation between both.” He announced that the next New Outlook international symposium would be cosponsored by an Arab magazine which he did not identify.

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