STRASBOURG, France (Oct. 22)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir used a visit here Tuesday to lay out to members of the European Parliament the positions on which Israel hopes to negotiate peace with its Arab neighbors and the Palestinians.
He offered no concessions.
Because only heads of state can address the plenary, Shamir spoke behind closed doors to an informal group of more than 100 members of the Parliament, which serves as the European Community’s legislative body.
While he clearly hoped to convince them of the merits of Israel’s case, he was adamant on the pivotal issues over which the Middle East peace conference opening in Madrid next week might succeed or fail.
Shamir flatly excluded a freeze on Jewish settlement-building in the administered territories and ruled out territorial concessions.
He made clear that as far as he is concerned, the territories “belong to the historic heritage of the Jewish people” and that “solving the Palestinian problem is another issue.”
He insisted that to relinquish the West Bank would be “an invitation to war.” Later he told reporters, in reply to a question, that the same applied to the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights.
He also told the E.C. lawmakers that while he understood their concern, “Europe will not have an important part” in the Middle East peace talks.
Shamir was invited to speak here by the Parliament’s chairman, the Socialist Enrique Baron Crespo of Spain. Asked later if the Israeli leader had persuaded anybody, Baron Crespo replied that “the opinions were split.”
UNDECIDED ABOUT GOING TO MADRID
Shamir repeated his basic points at a news conference and at a breakfast meeting with the Europe-Israel group of the European assembly.
For that audience, Shamir revived the Camp David formula, which would give the Palestinians autonomous self-government for five years. After three years, negotiations on a permanent solution would begin, he said.
Shamir also suggested that Palestinians living in Arab countries should be given citizenship of the country where they live.
He observed in that connection that many Palestinians in the Persian Gulf states hold Jordanian passports. “Why couldn’t they also have Jordanian-Lebanese or Jordanian-Kuwaiti citizenship?” he asked.
At a dinner hosted by Jean Kahn, president of the European Jewish Congress, Shamir met the leaders of 15 Jewish communities in Europe, including Michael Chlenov, head of the Vaad, the federation of Jewish groups in the Soviet Union.
Shamir spoke at length of the problems of absorbing Jewish immigrants from the Soviet Union. Israel “needs investments, which would create jobs,” he said.
Shamir said at his news conference that he was undecided whether to personally attend the Madrid ceremonies, at which Presidents Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev will preside.
Rumor has it that President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and President Hafez Assad of Syria may show up.