Rabin Says Palestinians Alone Are Not Negotiating Partners

Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin has dismissed the Palestinians as negotiating partners in peace talks, and reaffirmed his policy of “breaking bones” and “leaving scars” to suppress the 10-month-old uprising in the administered territories.

Rabin was in a tough-talking mood at a luncheon meeting of the Foreign Press Association Wednesday.

Responding to a formal complaint over the closure of areas to foreign reporters, he told the assembled journalists that events in the West Bank and Gaza were more fully covered by the news media than the Falkland Islands war, the American invasion of Grenada or the current disturbances in Algeria.

According to Rabin, the Middle East conflict can be resolved only by political negotiations and the only partner for such talks with Israel is Jordan.

The cooperation of Palestinian residents of the administered territories is possible, Rabin said, but separate talks with Palestinians could lead to no more than interim agreements.

Moreover, any Palestinians who wanted to negotiate interim agreements would have to be residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Rabin said, not “foreign elements” directing “terrorism” from Tunisia, Algeria or elsewhere, a reference to the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Rabin said the unrest must be cut down and tranquility restored to the area before peace talks can begin.

He warned Palestinians they could never achieve their aims through violence.

While conceding that they have ample supplies of rocks, and enough bottles to make gasoline bombs to keep the uprising going, Rabin threatened dire consequences if they persist.

He defended the use of lethal and near lethal force to quell disturbances, saying Palestinian rioters have to learn they cannot attack the Israel Defense Force with impunity.

He said the Labor Party’s policy is to continue the military presence in the territories, acting within the limits of the law.

Rabin suggested that despite his hard policies, Israeli Arabs would do better to vote for Labor in next month’s Knesset elections than Likud.

“If they vote for the other major party,” Rabin said, “they should consider who they are going to get in my place as defense minister if the other party comes to power.”

He mentioned no names, but the probable alternative is Ariel Sharon.

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