WASHINGTON (Sep. 13)
Former Under-Secretary of State Joseph Sisco said today that the peace initiative proposed by President Reagan is based on territorial compromise in return for peace.
“The American proposal is based on the approach of ultimately seeking to achieve a territorial compromise between Israel and Jordan on the assumption that both Israel and Jordan shore en thing in common, namely that whatever is developed in the West Bank and in the Gaza, ultimately not be a threat either eastward to Jordan or westward to Israel,” Sisco said in answering questions at the Foreign Press Center.
The former U.S. official, who helped draft United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, said the President’s proposals were well within the framework of 242 and the Camp David accords. He said Resolution 242 is not a “strait jacket.”
Sisco stressed that the situation now was at an opening stage in which all sides were deciding whether to negotiate on how to begin negotiations. He noted that while Israel has rejected the Reagan proposal and the Arab League at Fez, Morocco, last week restated its previous positions, “I do not take as a final answer either from Israel or the Arabs what has been indicated. I think we are in a pre-negotiating phase.” He said that the positions of both sides were “maximal” and were efforts to establish positions for the negotiations that will eventually be held.
SAYS ISRAEL WILL OPT FOR PEACE PROCESS
Sisco stressed that while there is a consensus in Israel that undivided Jerusalem should remain its capital and in opposition to a Palestinian state there is also a majority consensus for peace. He said he believed Israel “will choose the peace process.”
He said that while the Arabs at Fez reiterated that the PLO is the only legitimate spokesman for the Palestinians, the question is whether a way will be found for Jordan to represent the Palestinians at negotiations. This, Sisco observed, will become clearer when it is learned what is “below the tip of the iceberg” of last week’s Arab League communique.
Sisco said the Arab League position may become clearer when its six-member delegation comes to Washington in the near future. The League is sending a committee, which includes PLO chief Yasir Arafat, to the five permanent members of the Security Council to explain its position.
State Department spokesman Alan Romberg said he had no information that Arafat was seeking to come to the U.S. as part of the delegation. He reiterated the U.S. position against talking with the PLO unless it recognizes Israel’s right to exist and accepts resolutions 242 and 338.
Sisco rejected any nation that the Reagan proposal was aimed at trying to force Premier Menachem Begin from power. But he noted that public opinion in both countries affect each other. He said that the public opinion on Reagan’s proposal will “not be lost on Israel “and the “robust democratic debate” in Israel on the proposal will in turn affect American opinion.