WASHINGTON (Jul. 18)
The Reagan Administration asserted today that Israel does not have a veto over the United States’ decision whether Palestinians on the list given Washington by Jordan are acceptable for a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.
“Our decision will be taken in light of consultations with our friends in the area, but it will be our decision,” Robert Smalley, a State Department spokesman declared. But he stressed that progress toward a Middle East peace requires “mutual trust and full confidence.”
Smalley reiterated that the U.S. will not reveal any names on the list given it by Jordan with the aim of bringing about a meeting between the U.S. and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. “Nor are we going to discuss our diplomatic exchanges with other countries,” he added, as he refused to confirm that the U.S. has shown the list to Israel.
OBLIQUELY CRITICAL OF PERES
But Smalley, in a long statement, seemed to be obliquely critical of Israeli Premier Shimon Peres for revealing yesterday that the list was presented to Peres and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir. However, Smalley never mentioned Israel by name.
Peres said he found the people on the list unacceptably and also was opposed to the U.S. meeting separately with the Jordanian-Palestinian delegation before direct negotiations with Israel were held.
Smalley, stressing that the peace process requires consultation along with mutual trust, added: “It also requires a certain amount of discretion.. We think it is wise to recognize that we are engaged in a process that our penultimate goal is to bring about direct negotiations between Israel and the Jordanians and the Palestinians and that there will be many incremental steps along the way as this process unfolds. We should all try to step back a bit and not react to each individual event or occurrence as if it were somehow outside the process.”
U.S. GOAL REITERATED
But Smalley reiterated the Administration’s position that “the only way a just and lasting peace can be achieved is through direct negotiations. That is our goal and progress toward direct negotiations will be the criteria by which we’ll judge the utility of any particular step. If something will help the process, we will do it. If it will hinder the goal of direct negotiations that obviously is something we will try to avoid.”
Smalley added that “in considering the process of a meeting between the United States and a Jordanian-Palestinian group we will be guided by these considerations.”