Washington (Feb. 5)
– President Reagan’s position that “the first step” towards a settlement of the Arab-Israeli situation is recognition by the Arab states “of Israel as a nation” is supported by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Charles Percy (R. III.).
Two days after Reagan stated his position during a meeting with a small group of journalists in the Oval Office Monday, Percy said that this week he urged diplomats of two Arab countries to persuade “the Palestinians” to renounce terrorism and to recognize Israel’s right to exist in peace. If the Palestinians do that Percy said yesterday, the United States can then help them ultimately to have “some sort of homeland” in a federation with Jordan.
The Senator did not identify the two Arab countries. When one of his top aides was asked whether they are Jordan and Saudi Arabia, the aide replied “That is not exactly right.” Egypt is the only Arab country that presently recognizes Israel.
SENATOR OUTLINES SCENARIO
Percy said that the Arab-Israeli scenario requires first of all the guarantee of the Palestinians to Israel. He said he told the Arab diplomats to “exert their influence and pressure on the Palestinians to face up to the realities of life” and give the guarantees. “I think the day is getting closer when that can happen,” Percy said.
When those guarantees are given, he continued, he thinks the U.S. “could be a middleman between Israel and the Arab states to develop a procedure for establishing some sort of homeland for the Palestinians.” Regarding the “homeland,” Percy said Palestinians first must recognize Israel’s “right to
exist as a sovereign state, recognize its right to have defensible borders, and recognize the right of its people to live in peace and freedom and safety.”
Percy was criticized last month when he was reported to have told Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Moscow that he leaned toward a Palestinian state on the West Bank that would enable Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat to realize his dream of being the leader of a state.