Vienna (Nov. 23)
Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and Israeli Interior Minister Yosef Burg met here last night for a discussion of the Middle East and other world developments. But there was no narrowing of the wide gap that separates Austria and Israel on the nature of a Middle East peace settlement and especially the Kreisky government’s recognition of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
After the meeting Burg said he and Kreisky dealt with the Middle East situation seriously and profoundly. Kreisky said no understanding was reached with respect to the Palestinian problem, though he thought that the differing positions could be bridged eventually.
He said Austria’s position that the PLO is the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people was discussed with the Israeli minister.
Burg, Israel’s chief negotiator in the autonomy talks with Egypt, is in Vienna on a private visit. He said at a press conference today that talks are always important because peace is too vital to be hampered by petty disagreements. He did not elaborate.
He reiterated, however, that Israel is unalterably opposed to the eight-point Saudi Arabian plan as a basis for future negotiations. He noted that the plan, proposed by Crown Prince Fahd last August, mentions Israel only twice and only in connection with demands that it withdraw from all occupied Arab territory and dismantle its settlements on the West Bank.
Burg also denied that the Fahd plan hints at eventual recognition of Israel’s right to exist. He noted that experts have pointed out that the text refers to the right of states, not of nations in the area, implying that while Jews may live in the region, there is no recognition of Israel.
Burg criticized some Western European politicians who react to acts of terror by the PLO by claiming
that the organization is a confederation of various Palestinian groups, implying that some of them act on their own, not necessarily with the sanction of PLO chief Yasir Arafat. Burg conceded however that there may have been terrorist attacks not carried out by the PLO but he gave no details.
Kreisky denied reports that he seeks a mediator’s role in the Middle East. He said Austria had nothing to offer either side and that he is not accepted by both parties with equal friendship. Moreover, he said, he is overworked at the moment.