JERUSALEM (Jul. 14)
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres stirred up anger among settlers on the Golan Heights this week when he said quite bluntly, “Syria’s sovereignty over the Golan has been repeatedly recognized by Israel.”
Addressing a gathering of the United Kibbutz Movement, Peres said he was opposed to any extension of settlements in the Golan, but favored the development of settlements in the Jordan Valley area north of Jericho.
Observers here interpreted Peres’ remarks as an indication of Israeli flexibility over the Golan prior to the forthcoming visit of U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher.
Christopher is scheduled to arrive here over the weekend in an effort to revive the stalled Israeli-Syrian talks.
Golan settlers reacted angrily to Peres. As one spokesman put it, the foreign minister’s remarks were “a betrayal of the Zionism and the whole settlement effort.”
Meanwhile, Israel on Thursday permitted the entry into the autonomous areas of senior Palestine Liberation Organization officials, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Ahmed Karia, better known as Abu Alla, a drafter of the Oslo peace accords.
Twenty of Arafat’s personal bodyguards were also allowed in. Their entry had been held up in the wake of a mini-crisis, when four Palestinian terrorists were smuggled into the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians, two of whom were involved in the 1974 attack on a school in Ma’alot where 21 teen-agers were killed, had arrived along with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat when he returned to Gaza to take up residence on Tuesday.
Israel closed the Egyptian and Jordanian borders until all four had returned to Egypt.
Rabin said Israel would admit the four expelled terrorists if Arafat convenes the Palestine National Council in Gaza to renounce the clauses in the Palestine National Covenant that call for Israel’s destruction.
Arafat had committed himselft to the repeal of these clauses in Cairo when the Gaza and Jericho autonomy agreement was signed on May 4.
Meanwhile, Arafat laid the foundation stones for a neighborhood of 192 dwellings in Gaza being paid for by $6 million in U.S. government funding.