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Haaretz Backs JTA on Muskie Statement

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Hoaretz, the leading Israeli newspaper, today backed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s report of Secretary of State Edmund Muskie’s statement Monday in New York in response to a question by a representative of time magazine as to whether the United States is “any closer toward recognizing or feeling the need to recognize the PLO.”

Muskie, according to a transcript obtained by JTA Washington Bureau Chief Joseph Polakoff, began his reply by saying: “Perhaps we must do it at some point, of course, to broaden the negotiating base to include representatives of the Palestinian people in the other countries in the area. For the moment, that broadening does not seem possible…”

He did not offer the qualification voiced by previous Secretaries of State in response to similar questions – that the PLO must first recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

In its editorial today Hoaretz wrote that despite the denial by the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, it was clear beyond doubt” from what Muskie said, and from what he had omitted to say,” that the Secretary sees a place for the PLO if not in the negotiations over autonomy, then in the effort to persuade West Bank and Gaza Arabs to accept autonomy once it is negotiated.” The JTA in Washington read Muskie’s remark in the same way.

The remark triggered Israeli requests for “clarification.” But the U.S. Embassy angrily denied the authenticity of the JTA report and stressed that Muskie had not mentioned the PLO.

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