JERUSALEM (Feb. 19)
A British initiative that would alter Security Council Resolution 242 to recognize Palestinian rights has alarmed Israel and drew a sharp rebuke from Premier Menachem Begin at a meeting with British Ambassador Sir John Mason yesterday. The initiative is being pressed by Foreign Secretary Lord Carrington. He is expected to seek support for his ideas at a meeting of the European Economic Community (EEC) foreign ministers in Rome this week.
Carrington has suggested that the EEC promote an amendment to Resolution 242 that would give the Palestinians political status. The resolution, adopted in 1967 and accepted by all parties as the basis for a Middle East settlement, makes reference only to the Palestinian refugees. Carrington’s amendment would also recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as representative of the Palestinian people. The PLO, for its part, would be required to recognize Israel.
BEGIN REJECTS APPROACH
At a meeting with Mason yesterday, begin said Israel totally rejected Carrington’s approach. The same message was delivered to Carrington by the Israeli Ambassador in London, Shlomo Argov, last week. Begin, who saw Mason just before his departure from Israel to become High Commissioner in Australia, claimed that the British proposal would undermine the peace process by knocking out one of the pillars of the Camp David accords, meaning Resolution 242. He said the idea “smells of appeasement” of powerful Arab oil interests.
Begin flatly rejected the British assertion that the PLO was becoming more moderate. He claimed that, on the contrary, it continues to practice terrorism and its attacks on Israel would worsen were it not for the vigilance of Israel’s security forces.
Israeli diplomats in EEC capitals have been striving to block the British initiative. Their reports, coming back to Jerusalem, are uncertain as to what success they have achieved. While the diplomats say Carrington’s proposals are still very much a “one man show,” they cannot predict how the EEC foreign ministers will react when the British Foreign Secretary asks them directly for their support.