Begin has said he would never negotiate with the PLO. But Koch said Israel should negotiate with the PLO if PLO chief Yasir Arafat met the U.S. conditions. The U.S. conditions consist of PLO recognition of the State of Israel and acceptance of United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338.
Koch also said he was not a supporter of a policy of annexation of the West Bank with the incorporation of some 1 million Arabs into the Jewish State. But he pointed out that settlement activity, in his opinion, should not be halted as a pre-condition for negotiations of the status of the territory.
He said the U.S. position calling for an Israeli withdrawal in Lebanon first, then to be followed by a pull-out of Syrian troops and PLO forces is “ridiculous.” There should be a simultaneous withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon, Koch said.
RECOUNTS VISIT TO LEBANON
During his week-long visit to Israel earlier this month, Koch said he toured three towns in south Lebanon and was “amazed” that there was so little structural damage inflicted on the buildings as a result of the Israeli invasion last summer. He said that he expected the towns — Nabatiya, Sidon and Tyre — to have been “pulverized.”
He said during the course of private conversations with Lebanese civilians in south Lebanon, the people were fearful of the PLO returning to the area. He blamed the PLO “terrorists” with causing civilian casualties because of their placement of military weapons and armaments near and around civilian centers.
Prior the mayor’s remarks, Rabbi William Berkowitz, national president of the Heritage Committee warned of “elements within the U.S. Administration” which have “unfavorably treated Israel and failed to fully appreciate its political and tactical achievements in Lebanon.” Berkowitz described as a “disturbing trend” U.S. efforts to “distance itself from Israel” and called on the Reagan Administration to “urge Lebanon to sign a treaty of peace with Israel.”