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U.S. Should Press Israelis to Make Peace Now, Says Nixon

April 11, 1988
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Former President Nixon said Sunday that the United States should press Israel to reach a settlement with the Arabs now, rather than wait for a time when the Israelis “will be forced to make one that will not be in their interests.”

“What Israel has to understand is that for their own interests they should make the deal now,” Nixon said in an interview on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press.”

He explained that whrile Israel has won five wars, “in the end the Arabs will learn to fight,” and eventually Israel will lose.

The former president praised Secretary of State George Shultz’s efforts to bring about negotiations between Israel and the Arab countries. But he said the situation in the Middle East is “so complex” that it cannot be done by a secretary of state part time or even full time by second-level State Department officials.

Instead, Nixon said that a full time negotiator is needed, and he urged the next president to appoint his former secretary of state and national security adviser, Henry Kissinger, to the job and give him a year to accomplish the task.

“Henry is difficult, some think he is obnoxious, but he is a terrific negotiator,” Nixon said.

As for his own solution, Nixon rejected a Palestinian state as endangering Israel’s security. He said the Palestinians have to “have a system set up whereby they govern themselves,” but at the same time “Israel must have defensible borders.” He rejected “this idea that Israel should give up all of the occupied territory.”


Kissinger, appearing on ABC-TV’s “This Week with David Brinkley,” agreed. He said Israel should give up the Gaza Strip and some of the West Bank. “Israel cannot go back to the ’67 borders because it will then be indefensible,” Kissinger stressed.

But Kissinger repeated his uneasiness about the international conference Shultz has proposed to set the stage for negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

He noted that “all the successes” in the Middle East has been achieved under American rather than Soviet sponsorship.

Benjamin Netanyahu, who resigned March 30 from his post as Israeli ambassador to the United Nations to run on the Likud list for a Knesset seat, also appeared on the ABC program. He indicated that for Israel to give up any of the territories would endanger the existence of the Jewish state.

“I think we need a solution that gives Israel maximum security and gives the Arab inhabitants minimum interference in their daily life,” he said.

Netanyahu said that peace is being blocked by the Arab refusal to recognize the existence of Israel. He said that if Arab leaders were to declare that “we are willing to negotiate with Israel, recognize Israel in any borders,” then peace could be achieved faster than most people think.

Netanyahu said that “moderate” Arabs are afraid to make such a declaration because they fear the Palestine Liberation Organization.

But Edward Said, a member of the Palestine National Council, who also appeared on the ABC program, stressed that peace requires that the United States and Israel talk with the PLO. Said, who is one of two PNC members who met with Shultz before his Middle East trip, said that the PLO accepts the existence of Israel and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 “in the context” of other U.N. resolutions.

Said criticized the U.S. position formulated by Kissinger in 1975 that the United States would not talk to the PLO until it recognizes Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and accepts the legitimacy of the State of Israel.

But Kissinger stressed that this formula promised by him to Israel reaffirmed the position taken by two previous administrations.

Kissinger and Netanyahu rejected the claim that the PLO has accepted Resolution 242 and both maintained that the PLO still wants to destroy Israel.

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