TEL AVIV (Feb. 8)
Foreign Ministry Political Director-General Yossi Beilin says that now is the best possible time for peace initiatives.
Speaking to the Israel-America Chamber of Commerce here last Thursday evening he said that, “In view of the U.S. Administration’s strong backing of Israel, the apparent changes taking place in the Soviet regime, Egypt’s stated commitment to peace and Syria’s dire financial straits, it is difficult to imagine a more convenient time for policy initiatives than right now.”
“While it’s very difficult to read the present situation in the Soviet Union, changes are undoubtedly taking place,” he explained. “Some say this is only a facade, others say it’s a real change, but in any event the situation can be utilized to our advantage.”
Beilin said that foreign policy must express “the voice of national values,” and noted that cynical, so-called pragmatic foreign policy is harmful to Israel’s genuine national interests.
“We cannot be contemptuous of human rights in certain countries,” Beilin stated, “while striving to convince the world to join us in the struggle for Soviet Jewry on the basis of human rights. Nor can we condemn the world for ignoring a racist, or anti-Semitic regime, while at the same time we, too, ignore such regimes.
EXAMPLES OF HARMFUL FOREIGN POLICY
Beilin said two examples of “pragmatic” foreign policy which have been counter-productive and harmful to this country’s genuine interests were Israel’s arms sales to the former Somoza regime in Nicaragua, and its indifferent attitude toward the Iran-Iraq war.
The Director-General said it would be both moral and pragmatic for Israel to encourage an end to the Gulf war, not merely because of the terrible loss of life, but because Iraq is becoming increasingly stronger and more dangerous militarily as it receives new weapons systems and gains battlefield experience.
And while noting it was unclear what kind of dialogue Israel might have entered into with the Sandinistas, Beilin said that, “in retrospect, moral policies vis-a-vis Nicaragua could have been very pragmatic.”
In response to a question on Israel’s South Africa policy, Beilin said he concurred with Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s recent statement to the effect that, if Israel is forced to make decisions to ensure continued U.S. aid, “we will opt for American aid.”
On the question of an international conference on the Middle East, Beilin said he did not understand the “sudden opposition,” noting that the governments of Golda Meir, Rabin and Menachem Begin had supported continuing international mediation attempts.