WASHINGTON (Nov. 24)
President Chaim Herzog of Israel charged yesterday that the fighting between the Palestinian terrorist factions in Tripoli, Lebanon, is due to a “cynical use of power by the Syrians” who want to be the “exclusive custodians” of the Palestinian issue and to prevent the Palestinians from entering into negotiations with Israel.
“The Syrians fear that sooner or later the Palestinian leadership, influenced to an increasing degree by King Hussein, might consider moving toward negotiations,” he said in an address to the National Press Club. “Hence, these actions in order to prevent such a development.”
But in response to a question, Herzog rejected any Israeli sympathy for Yasir Arafat whose Palestine Liberation Organization forces are under siege in Tripoli by Syrian-backed dissident Palestinians. “We have no sympathy whatsoever for a man who introduced the idiom of international terror with all of its horrible implications into the realm of international affairs.” Herzog said. He noted that “We have no sympathy for either side” and labeled the fighting between Palestinian groups a “typical gangster shoot-out.”
TRAGEDY OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE
He said the “tragedy of the Palestinian people” is that it “never had a leadership which is prepared to compromise.” He noted that during the 19 years when the West Bank and Gaza Strip were under Jordanian and Egyptian rule, respectively, the Palestinians were never offered a state of their own nor did the PLO ask for one.
“The first government to offer the Palestinian Arabs any form of self-government was Israel which offered them autonomy as a transitory phase toward the resolution of the entire problem of negotiations,” Herzog said. “Had they accepted our offer, they would now be in a state of full autonomy and we would be in the final stages today of negotiations of the final arrangements for the West Bank and Gaza.”
NEW WIND BLOWING IN THE WEST BANK
While the Palestinians are not yet ready to negotiate, according to Herzog, he stressed that he believed that because of their “frustration” over the leadership fight in Tripoli, there “is a new wind blowing in Judaea, Samaria and Gaza” which will eventually lead to negotiations.
In his address yesterday, his last major speech before leaving for Israel today, Herzog also accused Syria of being a “surrogate” for the Soviet Union which, he said, “wants to sabotage the peace process because it has no part in it and because the U.S. is at the center of the process.”