WASHINGTON (Sep. 11)
Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared Thursday that Israel would not appear at any international conference to discuss the Middle East at which the Soviet Union would participate unless one of two conditions are first met.
These are, restoring diplomatic relations with Israel and “even more important opening the gates of the Soviet Union to free emigration” for Soviet Jews, Rabin said in a speech to the Heritage Foundation, the conservative think tank. “Without the Soviet Union doing one of these two conditions we cannot see any international forum in which the Soviet Union is included and in which peace is discussed,” he said.
When questioned about this position, Rabin asked how Israel could be expected to accept the USSR into the peace process when Moscow refuses to talk to the Jewish State and at the same time arms Syria and other radical Arab states. He said the Soviets give Syria weapons not even given to East European countries.
Rabin said that the summit conference between Israeli Premier Shimon Peres and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is the “fruit of the strategy” which, since 1974 has had the United States working with Israel and Egypt to bring about peace between the two countries.
But he said he doubted that Jordan would join in negotiations soon because of the “threat of terror and threat of radical Arab countries from the outside and cowardice of Arab oil countries that don’t dare to support moderate Arabs.”
Rabin repeated the statement which has become the theme of his current visit to Washington that terrorism is the major obstacle to peace. He said Hussein and other Arab leaders are afraid to seek peace with Israel because of the threat of assassination. He said the same is true for any Palestinian on the West Bank or Gaza Strip who speaks out against the tactics of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
He said terrorism cannot be eliminated but it can be coped with so that it does not interfere with the political process. He expressed the hope that during the next few years Jordan would join with Israel in stamping out terrorist threats to the West Bank.
Rabin stressed that although Israel seeks peace with its Arab neighbors, its existence does not depend on it. “We are going to stay there as a Jewish independent state,” he said. He said that Israel proved with Egypt that peace is “attainable” and it is now a question of time and terms for achieving it with other Arab states.
In introducing Rabin, Edward Feulner, Heritage’s president, said that conservatives are Israel’s best friends in the U.S. When Rabin was asked about this he said he would not make the same mistake as when he was Ambassador to the U.S. and was accused of supporting President Nixon in 1972. But he said under President Reagan support for Israel has reached its “peak.”
Earlier in the day, Rabin met for three hours with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. The Israeli defense leader told the Heritage Foundation audience that he and Weinberger did not discuss the controversial Lavi project. (See related story, P.1.)