WASHINGTON (May. 11)
Ashraf Ghorbal, Egypt’s Ambassador to the United States, suggested yesterday that the Reagan Administration conduct a “dialogue” with the Palestine Liberation Organization as a means to induce the PLO to “take the steps” toward recognition of Israel. At the same time, Ghorbal warned Israel against continuing its assistance to Iran in its war against Iraq.
“The United States is not at war with the PLO,” Ghorbal said in a wide ranging discussion on Middle East issues sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank. The PLO, Ghorbal said, “seek only an understanding, a psychological umbrella, a dialogue between the U.S. and the PLO which will be destined to help the PLO be convinced that they take the steps that we all want them to take.”
Ghorbal pointed out that the PLO has but “one trump card,” that of recognition of Israel, and “if they give that away, they have nothing to use in negotiations.” The United States’ policy for years has been to withhold any direct negotiations with the PLO until the organization recognizes Israel’s right to exist and accepts United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
The Egyptian envoy also said Israel “should rethink its attitude” of providing assistance to Iran in its war with Iraq. “Israel must look at the situation not simply as the enemy of my enemy is my friend but what augurs for the Middle East in the case of the (Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini fire sweeping the area,” Ghorbal said. He did not offer any details of Israel’s assistance to Iran.
Normalized relations between Egypt and Arab rejectionist states, Ghorbal argued, should be seen as a benefit to Israel because Cairo could now serve as a “broker” between the Jewish State and the Arab countries in the region. He said the peace treaty with Israel was part of a “strategic course” for solving the region’s disputes.
Referring to the continued violence on the West Bank, the Egyptian Ambassador urged Israel to “tone down its rhetoric and action” in the occupied territories, noting that this was imperative as negotiations were scheduled to begin for autonomy for the 1.3 million Palestinian Arabs in these areas. He urged the United States to “again activate its role as a full partner” in the autonomy negotiations.