JERUSALEM (Jan. 10)
A visiting delegation of the Parliament of Europe got a tongue lashing from Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin Tuesday over European criticism of Israel’s handling of the Palestinian uprising.
They also encountered a defiant Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, who told them that while Israel was willing to listen to ideas for peace put forward by the Europeans, it alone would make the final decisions.
The visitors from the Strasbourg-based Parliament, the legislative body of the 12-member European Community, are here at the invitation of the Knesset for their annual inter-parliamentary dialogue.
The president of the European Parliament, Lord Henry Plumb of Britain, was told by Shamir on Monday that it was hard to see what role the E.C. could play in the Middle East peace process given its “consistent pro-Palestinian policies.”
Rabin was especially vociferous. “Stop preaching to us,” he told his guests. “We shall not turn tail and run away because Palestinians are throwing stones at us.”
Rabin insisted that the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are not struggling for civil rights but “to achieve far-reaching political objectives which pose a threat to Israel’s security and Israel’s future.”
The defense minister also claimed that the measures taken by Israeli security forces to quell the uprising are mild compared to what European powers did in the past.
Rabin was asked how he would have reacted had he been Syrian defense minister. “If the Syrian defense minister were in charge of the territories, and not me.” Rabin responded angrily, “Nablus and Ramallah would long ago have been wiped off the face off the map and the intifada would have come to an end.”
Shamir told the parliamentary delegation Tuesday that Israel has not yet formulated a peace plan. “We have ideas and principles, but so far no official stand,” he said.