TEL AVIV (Dec. 21)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir declared Monday that Israel would continue to enforce law and order in the administered territories by all appropriate means, regardless of its image abroad, and implied that the world news media could not be trusted to report events objectively.
Shamir addressed the third International Conference of the Jeane Kirkpatrick Forum for Public Leadership and Public Policy at Tel Aviv University. He blamed the current disturbances in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists.
“We shall continue to impose security and public safety (in the territories) even if there are in the area correspondents and cameramen covering every step, and even if, as everybody knows, it is not always possible to rely on the media to act responsibly and not emphasize the negative out of all proportion,” Shamir said.
The premier was apparently referring to the daily television films and newspaper photographs of Israel Defense Force troops in full battle gear confronting young Palestinians armed with rocks and gasoline bombs.
By all accounts, Israel’s image has suffered its worst damage since the Lebanon war in 1982. At that time, too, many Israelis and friends of Israel abroad assailed the news media for alleged bias in its reporting.
According to Shamir, the terrorists seek to appear to the public as “freedom fighters” by covering up the truth. But Israel will not abandon its democratic government and way of life, even if it must pay a heavy price, he said.
The premier also said the terrorist activities that the PLO has been promoting in the territories should disqualify it from representing the Palestinian people in any negotiations for peace.
The PLO’s “aim and method of operation has removed it from any rational equation, and no serious international political or media body interested in a solution (to the Middle East conflict) should pay its respect,” he said.
Shamir rejected proposals to re-impose military law in the centers of rioting and unrest. “I don’t think Israel today can move backwards. What might have been good in the 1950s is not suitable for today. Such an idea is not on the government agenda at present,” he said.
The Jeane Kirkpatrick Forum is named in honor of the former United States ambassador to the United Nations, Jeane Kirkpatrick, who serves as its honorary chairman.
Kirkpatrick delivered the opening address Sunday in which she stressed that the only path to Arab-Israeli peace is through direct negotiations without the “umbrella” of an international conference. The same position is held by Shamir.
The theme of the current conference is “Democracies in Action — Israel at 40, the United States Constitution’s Bicentennial.” Shamir spoke on the subject “Israel and the United States: The Natural Alliance.”