JERUSALEM (May. 16)
Premier Menachem Begin urged the western European nations not to support Palestinian self-determination on grounds that it posed a threat not only to Israel but to Western interests in the Middle East. He argued that point at meeting here Friday with Italy’s Foreign Minister Emlio Colombo. Begin said the Europeans failed to understand that support for Palestinian self-determination would mean the creation of a Palestinian state.
According to Begin, such a development would allow Soviet penetration of the area. He repeated Israel’s unqualified rejection of the European Economic Community’s 1980 Venice declaration which called for the “association” of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Middle East peace process and self-determination for the Palestinian people.
Begin claimed that “Europe, more than anybody else, because it was the scene of so much shedding of Jewish blood, should refrain from supporting any proposals which posed a threat to the existence of Israel.”
Colombo replied that Europe had no intention of imposing a political settlement on Israel. He said the European countries respected Israel’s autonomy plan for the West Bank and Goza Strip, but the difficulty is that the Palestinians reject it. He suggested that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinians “and the organizations representing them.” He did not mention the PLO by name.
Begin told his visitor that there were presently 40,000 Syrian soldiers, 500 tanks and hundreds of guns and missiles in Lebanon which, together with PLO forces, not only endangered Israel but threatened the existence of the Christians in Lebanon. He said Israel has supplied the Lebanese Christians with $100 million worth of arms and ammunition to resist the threat.