ROME (Aug. 15)
Socialist Party leader Bettino Craxi has launched a sharp attack against Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
The former two-time Italian premier accused Shamir of shortsightedness, extremism and fanaticism for his tough stand against the Palestinians in the Israeli-administered territories.
In a statement published Friday in the Italian press, Craxi, long known as a friend of the Palestinian cause, also noted that Israel had a right to be recognized and to live in peace. He urged Israel’s Labor Party to be more active in opposing Shamir’s policies.
“The policy of the iron fist cannot be the policy of the Israeli people,” said Craxi, referring to strong rhetoric spoken by Shamir last week as rumors flew of a Palestinian plan for declaring an independent state.
Shamir told a special session of the Knesset that international calls for Palestinian self-determination were “hypocritical, phony and meaningless.”
He warned that those sections of the Camp David Accords preventing Israel from annexing the West Bank or Gaza Strip “cannot last forever.”
According to Craxi, “The prime minister speaks a language that should be considered unacceptable by the international community. It is not the language of peace, of reasonable solutions, of negotiations, of the respect for the rights of all people.
“Using, as he himself has said, the iron first, presents only the face of the oppressor and points to only one direction for the future: that of force as a solution.
“Declaring as Israeli the Arab territories, inhabited by Arab populations, amounts to de facto annexation which, if it were sanctioned, would have disastrous consequences. This clearly and fully is the policy of extremism.”
Craxi said that he hoped that Israeli Laborites would distance themselves from Shamir’s policies, which he called “short-sighted and dangerous.”
Earlier this week, Craxi vowed support for the establishment of a Palestine Liberation Organization-led government on a provisional basis as a step toward formation of a joint Palestinian-Israeli confederation.
In an interview with the Tunisian news agency TAP, Craxi said King Hussein’s decision to break Jordan’s administrative ties with the West Bank meant that the Middle East peace process is “moving again.”