JERUSALEM (Jul. 26)
Israeli officials heaped scorn today on reports from Beirut that PLO chief Yasir Arafat has signed a document affirming United Nations resolutions which would constitute PLO recognition of Israel’s right to exist. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir called the document “an exercise in deceit.” (In Washington, the State Department today rejected the Arafat document as ambiguous; See story, P. 3.)
The paper Arafat reportedly signed was presented as evidence of PLO recognition of Israel by Rep. Paul McCloskey (R. Colif.), a member of a six -member Congressional delegation visiting Beirut. He met with Arafat yesterday in his west Beirut redoubt which has been under siege by Israel for the past month.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Avi Pazner called the document a “public relations gimmick” and warned that the PLO will have to leave Lebanon. “All the deceit and declarations given for the benefit of public opinion will not help them,” he told reporters today.
Premier Menachem Begin’s press spokesman, Uri Porat, compared the document to the one produced by British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on his return from Munich in 1938 after Britain and France had acquiesced to the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia by Hitler. He said the paper McCloskey displayed “is the kind waved by people who are naive, ignorant or both.”
SEE PLO STALLING FOR TIME
Other Israeli officials insisted that the PLO was stalling for time in the hope that diplomatic pressure on Israel would somehow relieve the PLO of the necessity to leave Beirut and Lebanon. According to McCloskey, PLO “chairman Arafat accepts all United Nations resolutions relevant to the Palestine question.”
The U.S. has persistently reiterated in recent weeks that it will neither recognize nor have any contact with the PLO unless the latter recognizes Israel’s right to exist and accepts UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. According to the reports from Beirut, Arafat told the visiting Congressmen that the PLO cannot accept 242 alone because it refers to the Palestinian issue as a refugee problem and says nothing of Palestinian self-determination and aspirations for a homeland.
But according to PLO spokesmen in Beirut and McCloskey’s apparent interpretation of the document Arafat signed, affirmation of all UN resolutions pertinent to the Arab-Israeli conflict includes acceptance of 242 and the implicit recognition of Israel contained in its text.
McCloskey said, after meeting with Arafat, that the PLO leader “signed for his acceptance of all United Nations resolutions which include the right of Israel to exist.” But Arafat corrected him, saying,” All UN resolutions concerning the Palestinian question.”