JERUSALEM (Feb. 1)
Premier Menachem Begin implied today that he expects President Reagan’s Middle East peace initiative to eventually “disappear.”
Opening a political debate in the Knesset, Begin reiterated his total opposition to the Reagan plan which, among other things, called for a freeze on Israel’s settlement activities while peace negotiations are under way.
Declaring that “One cannot freeze the settlements just as one cannot freeze life itself,” Begin suggested that There are plans which existed and disappeared, there are positions which exist and will disappear. The only agreement signed was the Camp David agreement and this is the only agreement that should be negotiated,” he said.
He repeated his recent invitation to King Hussein of Jordan to join the peace talks, but only without preconditions. “We shall face the present difficulties and we hope that eventually the negotiations will bear fruit,” Begin said.
With respect to the negotiations over the pull-out of Israeli forces from Lebanon, Begin said Israel was demanding security arrangements “not on paper but in reality.” He predicted that there too an agreement would be reached that guaranteed Israel’s security.
PERES CALLS FOR ‘A COMPROMISE’
Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres, speaking for the opposition, rejected the “uncompromising” policies of the government. “One must seek a compromise. One must try to talk to King Hussein,” Peres said. But he added, “under no condition negotiations with the PLO.”
According to Peres, the problem with the Palestine Liberation Organization was not the “biography” of Yasir Arafat and its others leaders but the fact that in order to avoid a split in PLO ranks, its leaders refrain from making a clear political choice. “One should distinguish between public relations, inviting somebody for a photo session, and a clear decision in favor of peace,” Peres said.
He appeared to be referring to a recent meeting, believed to have been held in Tunis, between Arafat and leaders of the Israeli peace movement who were photographed with the PLO leader.