TEL AVIV (Sep. 21)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir vowed Monday that Israel will never participate in an international conference for Middle East peace as long as he is Prime Minister in the unity government of which Likud is a partner.
Shamir made his remarks to high school students in Ramat Hasharon near Tel Aviv. But they were clearly intended to be heard by diplomats attending the United Nations General Assembly session in New York where Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, the Labor Party leader, is expected to continue his advocacy of an international conference as a framework for direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab states.
“I’ve heard that when the Foreign Minister addresses the UN General Assembly (Sept. 29) and when he meets Foreign Ministers, he will tell them — he is obliged to tell them — that the government of Israel has not decided on attendance at such a conference,” Shamir said.
“Without such a decision, there will be no such conference. And I can add: As long as there is a national unity coalition government, and as long as I am its Prime Minister, Israel will not participate in such an international conference, and there will therefore not be an international conference.”
Shamir was even more firmly opposed to negotiations between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, a subject raised in questions from his audience. According to Shamir, to “sit down with the PLO and negotiate with them is to “surrender to them.” Even if the PLO were to renounce terrorism and accept UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which imply recognition of Israel, they would still be a terrorist organizations whose ultimate goal is the destruction of Israel, Shamir insisted.
“There is only one demand. The PLO has failed and must disappear from the stage. The PLO is today a stumbling block on the road to peace,” Shamir said.
He was less than sanguine over the future of relations between Israel and the Vatican. There have never been close or friendly relations between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people, Shamir told the high school students. He said if the Church wants to approach Israel the Vatican must first recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations. “That hasn’t happened and as long as it doesn’t happen, for any reason, I cannot foresee any sign of any real improvement” in relations, Shamir said.