JERUSALEM (Jun. 15)
The Cabinet today angrily rejected the declaration on the Middle East by the Prime Ministers of the nine European Economic Community (EEC) nations at the close of their two-day summit meeting in Venice Friday. Premier Menachem Begin denounced the 11-point declaration as a “second Munich surrender.”
The nine ministers upheld the right of Palestinian Arabs to self-determination, stated that the Palestine Liberation Organization and other Palestinian groups must be “associated with” the Middle East peace talks and stressed “the need for Israel to put an end to the territorial occupation which it has maintained since the conflict of 1967.”
In a statement read to the media after today’s Cabinet meeting, Begin said, “Every man of goodwill and every free man in Europe that studies this document will see in it a Munich surrender, the second of our generation. This surrender to blackmail will encourage all those who want to frustrate the peace process.”
Referring to Article 8 of the declaration which states that “The Nine (nations) stress that they will not accept any unilateral initiative designed to change the status of Jerusalem,” Begin charged that “The initiators of the Venice document have tried to interfere with the status of Jerusalem, our eternal capital which is not open to any division, and our right to settle in the Land of Israel, a right which is an inseparable part of our security.”
The Venice declaration stated that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories “constitute a serious obstacle to the peace process in the Middle East” and that “the Nine consider that these settlements, as well as modification in population and property in the occupied territories, are illegal under international law.”
ISRAEL WILL NEVER NEGOTIATE WITH PLO
Begin reiterated that Israel would never negotiate with the PLO which he called “This Arab SS.” According to reports from Beirut today, the PLO is not satisfied with the Venice declaration on grounds that it did not specifically recognize the PLO and did not recognize a Palestinian state.) The declaration called on all countries to recognize Israel’s right to existence and security.
It appeared that the EEC leaders were unable to reach a clear consensus as to who should represent the Palestinian people in the peace talks Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher of Britain told reporters in Venice that the mayors of the West Bank and other “Palestinian groups” should also be involved in the talks.
The leaders agreed, however, that growing tensions in the Middle East constituted a danger and made a “comprehensive” solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict more necessary and pressing than ever. Their statement stressed that the EEC countries continue to base their Mideast policy on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and positions expressed on several occasions. The declaration said:
“The time has come to promote the recognition and implementation of the two principles universally accepted by the international community: the right to existence and to security of all states in the region, including Israel, and justice for all the peoples, which implies the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
In that connection, the declaration said, “A just solution must finally be found to the Palestinian problem, which is not simply one of refugees.”