WASHINGTON (Nov. 7)
Daniella Weiss, Secretary General of Gush Emunim, charged here today that Premier Shimon Peres has secretly agreed that Israel will participate in an international conference to discuss a Middle East peace settlement which will open in Geneva within two months.
Speaking at a press conference at the offices of Americans For a Safe Israel, Weiss said she received this information from ministerial sources just two hours before she left Israel.
The participants would be Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, the United States and the Palestine Liberation Organization, according to Weiss. She later explained that the PLO representatives would be people agreed upon by the PLO chief Yasir Arafat and King Hussein of Jordan and accepted by Peres.
Israeli Embassy spokesman Yosef Gal told the JTA that there was no truth in Weiss’ claim. He said Israel’s position on the PLO and an international conference is well known. He noted that Peres, in his speech before the UN General Assembly, stressed that an international conference cannot be a substitute for direct negotiations.
Weiss’ charges also dispute the official position of the U.S. which has been stressing for months that Hussein’s demand for an international conference has been the major stumbling block in advancing the peace process. The U.S. also has maintained that the ultimate goal is direct negotiations.
Weiss, despite denials last week from the Israeli government, said today that Peres and Hussein have agreed on establishing a “condominium,” or joint Israeli-Jordanian rule of the West Bank and Gaza, as the first step. She said the joint government would deal with such things as water resources and land use.
However, Weiss stressed that the biggest fear of the Gush Emunim is that a peace conference would lead to territorial concessions, not only in Judaea and Samaria, but because of Syria’s participation, on the Golan Heights, too.
“This is the thing we are very much against because we believe that territorial concessions are dangerous for the future of the State of Israel,” Weiss said. She added, “and for American and free world interests in the Middle East as well.”
Weiss stressed that this is why Gush Emunim wants to stop the peace process now before it reaches a stage when it is “much harder” to prevent territorial concessions. To help this effort, Weiss, who has had meetings at the State Department and with members of the Senate and House, said she came to the U.S. to set up an office for Gush Emunim in New York and later in other major cities, including Washington.
She said there was a “vacuum of information” in the U.S. on some factors of Israel’s interests. “Once Americans and once American Jews realize what this so-called peace process leads to they will very much support the cause of remaining in Judaea and Samaria and not withdraw from there,” she said. She said peace requires a change in the Palestinian covenant and the attitude of Arab leaders toward Israel.
Weiss charged that Peres is keeping the agreement for an international conference secret because it is the only way he “can proceed with the peace process without being stopped by the inner opposition within his own government, “including some Labor ministers. She also said the majority of the Israeli people are against any territorial concessions.
‘WE WILL STAY IN OUR HOMES’
But no matter what happens, Weiss, who said she was the spokesperson for the 60,000 Jewish settlers in Judaea, Samaria and Gaza, asserted that “we will stay in our homes.”
She said it was “not a political matter, it is a matter of the soul, body, heart and the inner spark of the Jewish nation.” She said if there was an attempt to remove the settlers, not only would masses of Israelis join them to “protect” them, but so would “Jews from the world over.”
Weiss denied she was talking about a violent clash with the government. She said she was “democratically orientated” and has seen through the experience of Gush Emunim that democracy allows an activist group to get results, as Gush did when it first moved into Samaria. “When you bring people to the street then you can change policies,” She said.
However, she added that some settlers may not be so “gentle,” but said she hopes to have the “power to restrain the more harsh expressions.”