WASHINGTON (Mar. 22)
The principal author of a Quaker study on the Middle East urged the United States today to begin a serious dialogue with Israel, the Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization in order to push the Middle East peace process forward.
Everett Mendelsohn, chairperson of the American Friends Service Committee’s (AFSC) Middle East Working Party, also called on Israel to end its "de-facto annexation" of the West Bank and be ready to withdraw from occupied territories. At the same time he called on the PLO to show their willingness to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
The comments by Mendelsohn, a professor of the history of science of Harvard, were made at a press conference at the National Press Club at which the AFSC released the working party’s 226-page report, "A Compassionate Peace: A Future for the Middle East." It is the first full length study by the AFSC of the Middle East since 1970.
Mendelsohn said the Egyptian-Israel peace treaty is an "important breakthrough in an otherwise stalemated situation." But he said it has failed to solve what he called the "core" conflict in the Middle East, the Palestinian problem. He contended that the Arab states, as demonstrated by the plan proposed by Crown Prince Fahd of Saudi Arabia and other recent developments, have shown that they are ready to accept Israel but only after a settlement of the Palestinian problem and the creation of a Palestinian state.
OUTLINES STEPS FOR A ‘SERIOUS DIALOGUE’
Mendelsohn, who last visited the Middle East in January, accused the Reagan Administration of placing the Palestinian problem on the "back burner." He stressed that peace cannot be "imposed from the outside" but only mode by negotiations by the parties in the region. But, he said the U.S. can play an important role in pushing the peace process forward.
In doing so, Mendelsohn said the U.S. should abandon its "shadow dialogue" with Israel and conduct a "serious dialogue." He said the U.S. should make it clear that it rejects what he called Israel’s "de-facto annexation." of the West Bank, and if necessary back this rejection up with a decrease in aid.
He said the U.S. should also reiterate its support for United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 which he said requires Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories, with adjustments for security reasons after its borders are recognized.
Mendelsohn said the U.S. must have a real political dialogue with the PLO to involve them in the peace process. "Peace will not be made in the region without them," he said. "Peace cannot be made for them by someone else." At the same time, Mendelsohn said the PLO must announce its willingness to recognize the existence of Israel and declare what it wants in return for this recognition. He conceded that the Palestinians have made an error in not joining in the autonomy talks. However, he pointed out that the events in the last few days on the West Bank in which violence has occurred proves the situation there is "explosive" and must not be left unresolved.
On the question of Jerusalem, Mendelsohn said most people are in agreement that it should remain undivided and he believes that its final status should be established as partof an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.