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Kirkpatrick Speaks out Against International Peace Conference

April 26, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Jeane Kirkpatrick, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, predicted Monday that an international peace conference on the Middle East will never occur and that the Arab-Israeli conflict will continue for the “foreseeable future.”

Anyone who believes that forum could lead to resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict “should be sentenced to spend one full year at the United Nations,” Kirkpatrick said in a speech to the National Press Club.

As envisioned in Secretary of State George Shultz’s peace initiative, the conference was to have occurred in mid-April, two weeks prior to the start of negotiations on autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The conference would be comprised of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Middle East countries, but could not impose a solution.

“Violence has been endemic for centuries” in the Middle East, Kirkpatrick noted. “I think that it’s too bad that the Promised Land didn’t turn out to be on the border between Canada and the United States or off the shores of New Zealand or some such feasible place.”

“We may just be stuck with the continuation of relatively low levels of violence for the foreseeable future,” she added. Kirkpatrick, who now teaches at Georgetown University and is a national columnist, said it is wrong to fault Israel as the “principal obstacle to a Middle East conference.”

For example, she said the United States opposes the Soviet Union’s insistence that the conference have the power to impose a solution “on the basis of some majority vote.” In addition, the Palestine Liberation Organization wants to have an independent delegation of its own, with Jordan opposed to attending such a conference unless the PLO can attend, she said.


She called for Israel to make changes in its policies, including using the “minimal feasible force” to maintain order and eliminating vestiges of economic discrimination against Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “There are a few such discriminatory regulations,” she said, without going into detail.

Kirkpatrick also said Israel should “maximize autonomy” for Palestinians, endorsing Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek’s proposal to slice up Jerusalem into Jewish and Moslem boroughs. She said the United States should prod Israel to be “forthcoming” when its neighbors wanted to discuss “secure boundaries and peace for the region and autonomy for the Palestinians. So far none of Israel’s neighbors has been willing to do that, except Egypt,” she said.

On other matters, Kirkpatrick defended Israel’s restrictions on television coverage in the territories, saying that free speech requirements “are adequately met by respect for print journalism.”

Kirkpatrick said that if Israeli agents assassinated PLO military chief Khalil al-Wazir, it was done in “self-defense.” Because the PLO says it is at war with Israel “and in fact makes war,” Kirkpatrick said that “creates a situation in which the right of self-defense is triggered.”

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