JERUSALEM (Oct. 19)
Secretary of State George Shultz ended his three-day visit to Israel Monday suggesting that the Palestinians may be their own worst enemies.
It was “contradictory” for the Palestinians to demand that their views be heard and yet refuse to meet with him, Shultz said at a final news conference before departing for Egypt. He was referring to the select group of Palestinian politicians and business people from the administered territories invited for a talk at his Jerusalem Hilton Hotel suite Sunday afternoon.
The secretary waited in vain. None showed up. Some may have been deterred by threats, Shultz said, adding, “that only reminds us that peace has its enemies.” The list of invitees, carefully put together by U.S. consular officials in East Jerusalem, included former Gaza Mayor Rashad A-Shawa, Dr. Khatem Abu Ghazzala of Gaza and Mayor Hannah el-Atrash of Beit Sahur in the West Bank.
A-Shawa, who is pro-Jordanian, said in an interview later that he did not wish to deepen divisions in the Palestinian camp by meeting with Shultz at this time. He and the others also may have wanted to avoid the small group of Palestinian students picketing Shultz’s hotel during the time set for the meeting.
They carried placards comparing restrictions in the administered territories with those in force against Jews in the Soviet Union. Shultz, who observed the pickets, told reporters, “I don’t know of any limitations on emigration” from the territories.
The East Jerusalem Arabic press, which has considerable influence with West Bankers, had advised the Palestinian leaders not to attend the meeting. They said the recent escalation of violence in the territories was good reason to boycott Shultz.
Other reports indicated the Palestine Liberation Organization had pressured representatives from the territories not to meet with Shultz, because of the secretary’s involvement in recent moves to close the PLO’s In formation Office in Washington.