NEW YORK (Sep. 28)
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, in a speech prepared for delivery Wednesday evening before the United Nations General Assembly, reiterated his support for a “non-coercive international setting” to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict.
But while continuing to express his preference for a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation as a negotiating partner, Peres said that Israel is “prepared to start negotiations without prior conditions with a Jordanian delegation or a Palestinian one.” His address, the text of which was made available to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Wednesday afternoon, appeared to be a signal to the Palestine Liberation Organization that it drop the murkiness of its latest peace rhetoric in favor of a “clear voice” for peace.
“For how long can a desire for peace be treated as a secret password, as though we are living in clandestine surroundings? Commitment to peace must emerge loud and clear, for skeptics to witness, for the hopeful to respond” to, said Peres.
The foreign minister’s address late Wednesday to the 43rd session of the General Assembly was expected to cap three days of intensive diplomacy at the United Nations.
CZECHS TO SEND DELEGATIONS
Peres met Tuesday with his counterparts from both Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. During a 90-minute meeting with Bohuslav Chnoupek of Czechoslovakia, the two countries agreed to exchange consular delegations for the first time since the Czechs severed diplomatic ties in 1967.
The Czechs said they would send two delegations to Israel and would promote economic ties with Israel.
The meeting was the first encounter between the two countries since the Six-Day War, when Czechoslovakia, along with other Eastern European nations except Romania, severed relations with Israel.
Another first occurred Monday, when Peres, President Reagan and Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid took part in the first high-level joint meeting among the three countries since the signing of the Camp David accords almost exactly 10 years ago.
Peres referred to that meeting in his address when he said the three countries agreed that the only basis for negotiations are U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The resolutions call for return of Arab lands and guarantee Israel’s right to have secure borders.
That said, Peres put the ball squarely in the PLO’s court, with both warnings and entreaties to the organization and its chairman, Yasir Arafat.
Peres called PLO talk of declaring a government in exile and its suggestion of a return to the borders specified in the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan “yet another escape to the realm of self illusion.”
“We expect the Arab world — including the Palestinians — to do away with the contradiction of sweet promises and bitter violence,” he said “A choice must be made: to pay the price of peace or be resigned to the costs of war.”
The foreign minister held fast to his formula of including the Jordanians in peace negotiations over the future of the administered territories, despite King Hussein’s decision to sever ties with Palestinians living there.
URGES ROLE FOR CHINA, USSR
Peres also called for a halt to the arms race in the Middle East, especially in the areas of ballistic missiles and chemical and biological warfare.
In addition to addressing the Arab world, Peres urged the entire General Assembly to renounce its “Zionism is racism” resolution of 1975.
He called it “a statement that shows no understanding of Zionism and a dangerous misunderstanding of racism.”
The foreign minister had qualified praise for the Soviets for allowing a degree of “cultural autonomy” and increased emigration for Soviet Jews. He called on Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to play a diplomatic role in the Mideast beyond arming Arab belligerents.
Peres also called for a role for the People’s Republic of China in an international conference. The foreign minister, who met earlier in the day with his Chinese counterpart, Quichen Quiam, urged China to normalize relations with Israel.
Peres also met Wednesday with U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz and Foreign Ministers Musut Vilmaz of Turkey and Peter Varkonyi of Hungary. After his address, he was to meet with U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar.