WASHINGTON (May. 18)
The Israeli and Egyptian Ambassadors to the United States disagreed Sunday on whether the Palestinian issue was at the root of the Arab-Israel conflict and whether solving it would end international terrorism.
Israel’s Meir Rosenne and Egypt’s EI Sayed Abdel Raouf EI Reedy exchanged their views at the closing session of the 80th anniversary meeting of the American Jewish Committee at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.
“The Arab-Israel conflict is essentially an Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Reedy maintained. He said the other Arab countries “were dragged in to this conflict” because of “solidarity” with fellow Arabs.
But Rosenne pointed out that Israel was attacked by Arab countries in 1948, not because of their concern for the Palestinians, but because “they wanted to destroy the State of Israel.” He added that except for Egypt, the Arab states have refused to” sit down and negotiate because they are against the existence of the State of Israel.”
On terrorism, Reedy said “there is a link between the increase of terrorism and the absence of peace.” He said a whole generation has grown-up that has been subjected to violence, hopelessness and despair and has been “exploited” by others for various causes.
He said a “credible peace process, even if it triggers initial and instant violent action on the part of the peace spoilers,” will lessen terrorism because young people will see that there is hope.
NEED FOR INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
But Rosenne stressed that “terrorism is not linked to the situation in the Middle East.” He warned that the world will have to live with terrorism.” As a result of the action of the United States there will be less terrorism because nobody wants to be bombed either by the United States or any other country.” Rosenne stressed.
Reedy agreed that there has to be international cooperation against terrorism. But he warned that there is a “new and alarming tendency” to “identify terrorism with the Arabs.”
“It is not only erroneous and unfair, it is extremely dangerous,” he said. “It tends to radicalize the Arab masses, alienate those who aspire to a peaceful settlement and drive a wedge between the Arab and Western world.”
Reedy stressed that “the continuation of the status quo would increase the tendency to violence on both sides.” He said that the February 11, 1985 agreement between King Hussein of Jordan and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat is still in effect and expressed confidence that progress can be made. He maintained that Arafat wants to find a way to negotiate peace with Israel.
Rosenne said that every Israeli government has wanted to make peace with all its Arab neighbors. He said negotiations must be direct and without pre-conditions. He stressed that Israel is still willing to meet with a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. “We are not going to decide the identity of the Palestinians that are going to negotiate with us,” Rosenne said.
He added, however, that Israel will never negotiate with the PLO, reminding Reedy that Arafat rejoiced when Egyptian President. Anwar Sadat was assassinated. He asked how Israel could be expected to reach an agreement with Arafat if Hussein was unable to do so. “You don’t need to negotiate with your friends, you need to negotiate with enemies,” Reedy replied.
He said that the Palestinians need a “Palestinian entity” in which they can “live and die as free Palestinians.” Rosenne noted that from 1948 to 1967, Jordan and Egypt controlled the West Bank and Gaza and they never did anything about establishing a Palestinian state. He said the reason was that such a state would endanger the existence of Jordan.