Kissinger Warns Against Seeking Comprehensive Solution in Mideast
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Kissinger Warns Against Seeking Comprehensive Solution in Mideast

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Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said last night that he did not believe there is an opportunity at this time to make a breakthrough toward peace in the Middle East and warned that “any attempt to achieve a comprehensive solution at this moment will lead to an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous situation.”

He also emphasized that involving the Soviet Union in any Middle East negotiations would make the effort to achieve peace “infinitely more difficult.” The basic reason for his skepticism about the possibility for a breakthrough is the continuing internecine warfare between the Arab states, the domestic turmoil within the Arab states and the fear on the part of some of the Arab leaders that making peace with Israel would undermine their continued existence.


Addressing the closing plenary of the 53rd General Assembly of the Council of Jewish Federations, he told the more than 2,000 delegates that “simple, limited arrangements that can ease the situation are possible and should be pursued in such areas like the Gaza Strip and non-strategic areas of the West Bank, especially those with heavy Arab populations, be given the autonomy which was in the Camp David arrangements together with military arrangements that would make surprise attacks by anyone more difficult.”

Kissinger pointed out that one such successful limited agreement has existed between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights since 1974. He said this agreement has never been violated, even in the middle of the Lebanese War, and that the United Nations force which was established to keep Israeli and Syrian troops apart under that arrangement has had its mandate renewed every six months at the request of Syria.

He said that the United States “has learned that attempting too sweeping an approach can lead to setbacks and even humiliation and may achieve nothing substantial.” While he did not elaborate on this theme, some saw this as an implied criticism of President Reagan’s 1982 Mideast initiative and the eventual withdrawal of the U.S. troops from the multinational force after Reagan affirmed that the U.S. would not withdraw in the face of terrorist bombings of American military installations and armed forces personnel in Beirut.


Kissinger also pointed out that Israel too is not in a position to attempt experimental approaches to peace. “Israel’s margin of survival is very narrow, and there are certain experiments it cannot try,” he said.

Israel’s policy “in the nature of things cannot afford great experiments,” Kissinger added. “This leads to a peculiar situation that there is no people in the world as prepared to pay a price for peace, for legal peace, as are the people of Israel because it has never had legal peace. It is in fact a somewhat paradoxical situation.”

But he pointed out that legal peace alone is a technicality which does not guarantee that real peace will be maintained. He noted that France and Germany have signed legal peace agreements every 50 years.

“For Israel, the quality, the possibility to dream and to maintain its faith in itself is more important than any of the technical issues,” Kissinger declared.

He stated that “no diplomatic progress can be made and that the security of Israel cannot be maintained if Israel loses its distinguishing feature, which was, that it was an idea before it became a reality, that it was a community before it became a state, and that it was the community that made the state inevitable. That is our challenge and our big opportunity.”


Kissinger said that Israel, with its unity government is capable of making decisions “within a realistic framework.” The biggest trouble facing Israel is internal, not its foreign policy, he observed. “And that is why groups like this (the CJF) symbolize the fact that Israel is not alone that it has friends outside that can contribute spiritual strength.”

This was his only reference to friends of Israel. He made no reference whatsoever to U.S.-Israel relations or to any statements of friendship for Israel by the Reagan Adminstration.

Kissinger stated that in spite of all the problems facing Israel in its quest for peace, “they can all be dealt with by our own actions. None of them require a structural solution. There is no other peoples or groups of peoples in the world that can say that the solution of their problems is almost entirely in their own hands.”

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