Rabin: Terrorism is the Main Obstacle to Peace

Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said Wednesday that terrorism is preventing any movement in the peace process. “Terrorism is the main obstacle to peace,” he told reporters after a one-hour meeting with Secretary of State George Shultz at the State Department. Rabin indicated that the major topic of discussion was Egyptian-Israeli relations. The meeting took place shortly after it was announced that Israeli Premier Shimon Peres and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had scheduled their long-awaited summit for Thursday and Friday.

Since King Hussein of Jordan abandoned his initiative earlier this year, the Reagan Administration has been placing its hopes on improved Egyptian-Israeli relations to put new life into the Mideast peace process.

But Rabin cautioned Wednesday against expecting any movement in the near term. He said there is a need to encourage Palestinian moderates on the West Bank and Gaza, but anyone who shows any signs of being willing to negotiate with Israel is threatened by terrorists.

Rabin said this means terrorism must be coped with “in the territories, in Lebanon and in the region.” While such efforts are being made, Rabin said nothing was being done about the countries that are the “sources of terrorism” because they “encourage and support” terrorists. These countries were identified by Rabin as Syria, Libya and Iran. He did not say what should be done.

Rabin met with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and National Security Advisor John Poindexter Thursday. The meeting between the two defense chiefs reportedly included talks about U.S. military aid to Israel, strategic cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, and the controversial Israeli Lavi fighter plane project. According to published reports, Israel estimates the cost of the plane at $15.5 million while the Pentagon claims it would cost $22.5 million.

Rabin is scheduled to meet with Vice President George Bush on Friday. Peres is scheduled to arrive in Washington Monday for a meeting with President Reagan.

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