Kissinger Urges Interim Self-rule, but Arab-american Rejects Concept

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger is urging the Bush administration to encourage efforts for an interim arrangement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, rather than press for a final settlement leading to a Palestinian state.

But the head of an Arab-American group rejected that concept Tuesday.

Writing in his syndicated column, which appeared in The Washington Post on Tuesday, Kissinger said that an interim arrangement for Palestinian self-rule should be worked out with the inhabitants of the territories, not the Palestine Liberation Organization.

“The dialogue between the United States and the PLO could help provide a framework for such a transition,” Kissinger said.

“Any serious diplomatic efforts” must recognize that “conditions for a final settlement simply do not now exist; Israel cannot be asked simultaneously to give up territories and to establish a PLO state,” Kissinger said.

He added, “A Palestinian state can emerge only after Israelis and Palestinians have learned to live side by side in dignity.” He suggested a period of self-rule of about five years.

Kissinger said such a transitional period “will test whether coexistence between Israel and a Palestinian political unit is in fact possible before a final political settlement is negotiated.”

He said such an approach would not totally exclude the PLO since most of those elected would be PLO supporters.

ASKED TO ‘BEHAVE’ FOR 5 YEARS

Speaking at the National Press Club, George Moses, president of the National Association of Arab Americans, said Tuesday that Kissinger’s proposals for an interim solution would “require that Palestinians take it on faith that if they ‘behave’ for five years, perhaps the Israelis will grant more autonomy.”

He called the proposal “ridiculous” and said it would be “rejected out of hand.”

Moses also criticized Kissinger’s inference that the PLO has met “semantic formulas” for a U.S.-PLO dialogue without truly changing its policies.

Kissinger wrote that when he helped draft the U.S. conditions for talking to the PLO, it never occurred to him that “these conditions would one day be met by semantic formulas rather than by an insistence on concrete changes in attitude.”

“When Israeli pronouncements are made, they are reliable policy, and when Palestinians speak, it is subterfuge — they don’t mean it,” Moses complained.

“Clearly that’s not the basis for sound decision-making, yet that has been the attitude of key decision-makers in this government for far too long,” he said.

The Arab-American group asked the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week to hold hearings on whether Israeli human rights practices have violated conditions for U.S. foreign assistance.

Moses said he plans to make the same request to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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