Jerusalem (Sep. 1)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said today Israel could not hold a rational dialogue with Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky because Kreisky “condemns the victims of murder and not the murderers.” The Foreign Minister, addressing the Jewish Agency Assembly in Jerusalem, referred to statements made by Kreisky in the aftermath of last Saturday’s terror attack on a synagogue in Vienna in which two Jews were killed and 18 were wounded.
Kreisky himself later today reasserted that his policy towards the Palestine Liberation Organization would “not change at all.” In a telephone interview with the Israel Army Radio, Kreisky said the assailants, arrested after the attack, had said they were members of the ultra-extremist Al Asifa organization headed by Abu Nidal and that their action had been intended “against the treachery of the PLO.” The PLO itself had informed him, Kreisky added, that it condemned the synagogue shooting and that it had had nothing to do with it.
Kreisky said he thought the attack, and other such possible actions in the future, represented the reaction of the extremist groups against the ceasefire across the Israeli-Lebanese borders and their fears that the U.S. might soon embark on contacts with the PLO.
HARSH WORDS FOR CHEYSSON
Shamir also had some harsh words for French Foreign Minister Claude Cheysson. He told the Jewish Agency Assembly delegates that if Cheysson thought he could win the confidence of both Israel and the PLO, he was certainly wrong as far as Israel was concerned. (Cheysson met officially in Beirut last Sunday with PLO leader Yasir Arafat.)
Shamir spoke with particular bitterness against Cheysson’s comparison of the PLO’s struggle to that of occupied Europe against Nazi Germany. “Did we invade and occupy a PLO state?” Shamir asked rhetorically. “What wrong have we done to them?”
He said Israel could not conceivably withdraw from the West Bank — and he urged world Jewry to support this basic Israeli opposition. Jewish criticism of or opposition to this position did Israel inestimable harm, Shamir said.
On the issue of normalization with Egypt, which Israel often feels is being handled reluctantly by Cairo, Shamir observed that “normalization is not a solely Israeli interest.” Israel’s economy could survive and flourish without trade with Egypt, and similarly its culture could go forward without contacts with the Egyptians. Normalization was in the interests of both sides — and more importantly it is in the interest of the peace, Shamir said.