WASHINGTON (Dec. 16)
Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin declared Wednesday that while he regrets that Palestinians have been killed during more than a week of disruptions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Israel will continue to put down forcefully any outbreak of “public violent disorder and terror” in the administered territories.
“We are sorry about the loss of life of anyone,” Rabin said in a speech at the Brookings Institution. But he stressed that those who engage in the “use of public disorder, terror,” must lean that “nothing can be gained” by it.
“The only way to solve the problem is through peace negotiations with Jordan, with Palestinians who are not declared members of the PLO,” he stressed, referring to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Rabin, who spoke at the Washington-based think tank at the end of his three-day visit here, dealt directly in his opening remarks with the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where nine Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed in the past week.
The defense minister was reportedly asked that Israel exercise restraint during a meeting with Michael Armacost, undersecretary of state for political affairs.
As Rabin spoke, about a dozen persons demonstrated outside the Brookings Institution against Israel’s policies in the territories, chanting “long live the PLO, long live (Yasir) Arafat.”
At one point, Rabin referred to them by noting that there is nothing wrong with peaceful demonstrators, such as the ones against him. But when demonstrations turn violent with Molotov cocktails and bottles being thrown, fires set, roads blocked, then the Israeli police and army “will use what ever is needed to prevent it,” he said.
Instead of participating in violent demonstrations, the Palestinians should tell their leaders “to solve the problem, seek a round of negotiations” with Israel, Rabin said.
He said the situation could be only be resolved when the Arabs renounce war and terror against Israel and decide to seek a solution through negotiations, as did Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Rabin suggested that the current outbreak of civil disorder was caused by the “frustration” of the Palestinians that the Arab-Israeli conflict had received such a low priority, first at the recent Arab League meeting and then at the summit meeting between President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
PAINFUL FOR BOTH SIDES
He said the present situation is “painful” for both the Palestinians and the Israeli soldiers and police who have to enforce order in the territories.
But Rabin stressed he has a “clear conscience” about Israel’s policy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He noted that Israel has a military government in the territories because it has not taken any unilateral decision, neither annexing the areas nor withdrawing, but is seeking a political solution.
In 1947, the solution for two British Mandates, India and Palestine, was partition on religious grounds, the defense minister observed. But, he added, that while in India, Moslems demanded a separate state–now two countries, Pakistan and Bangladesh–the Arabs rejected a Jewish state and went to war against it.
Rabin said that from the armistice of 1949 to the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel repeatedly asked the Arabs to negotiate a peace treaty based on the armistice lines, which would have given the Arabs not only the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but also East Jerusalem.
He added that while the Arabs now insist that the solution to the Palestinian problem is a Palestinian state, they never suggested such a state during the 19 years they occupied the territories.
Rabin also pointed out that Israel only gained the territories because King Hussein of Jordan rejected pleas from Israel, and entered the 1967 war.
The main purpose of Rabin’s visit to Washington was the signing Monday of a memorandum of understanding between the United States and Israel, which formally gives Israel status equivalent to that of a NATO ally of the United States.
This allows Israel to bid on U.S. Defense Department research and development projects, as well as on arms purchases.
Rabin said Wednesday he also wanted to meet with the new defense secretary, Frank Carlucci, and to see if he could negotiate a cheaper price for the F-16, the fighter jet Israel agreed to purchase when it abandoned development of the Lavi.
Rabin also denied that Israel is providing weapons to Iran, as reports in the press repeatedly claim. He stressed that both Iran and Iraq are “bitter enemies of Israel” and Israel would like to see the war between them end with a “no-win situation.”