PARIS (Jan. 31)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has offered a preview of his long-awaited peace plan. It is based on the premise that “a Palestinian state is unimaginable.”
Shamir outlined his peace scenario and expressed strongly held views in a remarkably candid interview published Tuesday in the French daily Le Monde.
He is expected to present his peace plan to President Francois Mitterrand of France, when he visits Paris next month, and to President George Bush in Washington, on his visit there in March.
Shamir ruled out unconditionally Israeli negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
He said the Palestinians “will never have a Palestinian state — they will not have it through negotiations nor by force. A Palestinian state is unimaginable. It will never happen,” he told Le Monde.
What he does offer the Palestinians is a two-phased settlement. In the first phase, they will be granted what Shamir considers extensive and liberal autonomy for a period of unspecified but limited duration.
It would be followed by negotiations, without preconditions, over the future status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Shamir said the negotiations would seek a solution “acceptable to all parties.”
He said it might include withdrawal of Israeli troops into specific security zones. That would be “a guarantee for Israel’s security, but also a guarantee for the territories’ autonomy,” the prime minister said.
‘IMMEDIATE DEMOCRATIC ELECTIONS’
“If we reach an agreement in principle on two-phased negotiations, there will be immediate democratic elections to enable the Palestinians to be represented,” Shamir said.
Asked if there was not a risk that PLO representatives might be elected, Shamir replied, “Yes, there is a risk, but to counterbalance such a risk there will remain Israeli troops in the territories, within the (security) zones.
“There will be no revolutionary change in the territories till we reach a definite solution,” he said.
Shamir said Israel would have preferred to reach preliminary agreements with Jordan and Egypt.
“Reaching an agreement with even one of them would be sufficient, but as both refuse right now, we would accept reaching a two-phase agreement with the Palestinians, if we don’t have to deal with the PLO,” Shamir explained.
Shamir referred several times to the 1978 Camp David agreements as the basis for a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
His questioners, Le Monde’s foreign editor, Jacques Amalric, and the paper’s Israel correspondent, Alain Franchon, pointed out that both Shamir and Foreign Minister Moshe Arens had opposed Camp David and voted against the accords in the Knesset at the time.
Shamir admitted that “both Arens and I were against. I was in favor of the peace treaty with Egypt, but I opposed a total withdrawal from Sinai and the evacuation of Yamit, which created a precedent that has caused trouble.”
Yamit and its satellite settlements were built by Israel in northern Sinai. They were razed by the Israel Defense Force before the territory was handed back to Egypt.
ISRAEL DRIVEN TO ‘DESPAIR’
Shamir characterized Israel’s present diplomatic position as “grave.” He said the American decision last month to open a dialogue with the PLO and President Mitterrand’s plans to meet with PLO chief Yasir Arafat “drive Israel to despair.”
“I don’t think it is good for the international community to push Israel into a desperate (situation),” he said.
The prime minister stressed that Israel will never accept “an imposed solution. If we don’t want an international conference, we simply will not go to an international conference,” he said.
Shamir had high praise for the Middle East policies of the Reagan administration, and he said he hoped they would be continued by the administration of George Bush.
Reminded that it was Reagan’s secretary of state, George Shultz, who decided on a dialogue with the PLO, Shamir replied, “Yes, but until that moment he had been excellent.”
Asked what legacy he would like to leave for history, the 73-year-old Israeli leader said, “I think of peace, at least to enable it, and a reform of our electoral system to prevent us from becoming like France’s Fourth Republic,” which was marked by repeated changes of government.