Dayan, Eban Debate Palestinian Future

Former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan does not expect the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians to accept the autonomy scheme, even if Israel and Egypt agree on all its details. Dayan made this clear yesterday in a live radio discussion with another former Foreign Minister, Abba Eban.

It is for that reason, Dayan explained, that he advocates the unilateral application by Israel of its part of the scheme, namely, the removal of the military government and redeployment of the army in “specified security locations:” If Israel did this, Dayan said, and thereby ceased its involvement in the Palestinians’ affairs, they might with time come to accept the situation (without formally endorsing it).

Dayan remained flatly opposed to the nation of an independent Palestinian state, now or in the future. He said he envisages the “permanent status” of the areas as a combination of local, autonomy and political affiliation to Jordan. But this would not mean, he stressed, that Jordan could exercise sovereignty — either in the West Bank or in Gaza.

Eban propounded his recently-adopted thesis in favor of a “Benelux-type” community to include Israel, Jordan and a Palestinian state. The basic issue, he said, was whether Israel wanted to continue ruling a million Arabs against their will. If it did not — and he certainly did not — then it must part company from them, and it mattered little whether they became part of Jordan again, or a separate state.

In the negotiations over the “permanent status,” Israel’s opening stance must be the retention of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank. But, Eban reminded Dayan, that had been the opening position with Egypt, too, “and yet you were unable to achieve it in the end.” Eban said the negotiations must, at any rate, provide for Israel’s minimal, vital security requirements; the retention of “security locations” and the demilitarization of the West Bank.

Dayan challenged Eban on this last point. If the Palestinian state were sovereign, it could one day throw out the Israeli “security locations. But Eban retorted that West Germany today was a sovereign state, and yet was not at liberty to evict the U.S. army from its territory. The agreements providing for the U.S. presence did not contradict the fact of German sovereignty, Eban argued.

Similarly, he said, once Israel “parted company from” the West Bank, even if it ceded the territory to Jordan, it could do little to determine the subsequent fate of the area. The Palestinians might take over the whole of Jordan one day, or alternatively the West Bankers and Gazans might break away from Jordan and become an independent state.

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