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Kissinger Blasts Peace Conference, but Says Status Quo Won’t Last

May 13, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Taking a left-handed swipe at the Reagan administration’s Middle East peace efforts, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Tuesday that an international peace conference “is the most dangerous forum for Israel” and that the United States can only wind up “being caught between all parties.”

At the same time, Kissinger chastised Israel for not presenting a unified point of view on its options for peace.

“One cannot ask for American support if Israeli political leaders present to Americans a smorgasbord of incompatible options and fight their political battle on American soil by dividing up different groups of the Jewish community, and the non-Jewish community, in support of totally conflicting points of view,” he said.

Though not mentioning Secretary of State George Shultz’s plan by name, Kissinger said that involving the Soviet Union in an international conference runs counter to American interests.

“The permanent objective of the Soviet Union in the Middle East, and the Russian empire before it, has always been diametrically opposed to those of the Western democracies; and even if you believe that (Soviet leader Mikhail) Gorbachev is a reformer, what he’s trying to reform is the Soviet economy.”

An international conference, he said, would not be just a one-time gathering. “The idea that a conference can be assembled, which then sets off Israel and the Arabs for direct talks after which the conference is never heard from again, is, in my view, totally naive.”

Such a conference, Kissinger said, “is the most dangerous forum for Israel; it is the most dangerous forum for the United States; and it can only wind up with the United States being caught between all parties and Israel being pressured in a direction that it cannot respect.”


Speaking at a $1,000-a-plate American Jewish Committee dinner, Kissinger outlined the varying Arab positions on negotiations:

The more moderate view, which calls for Israel’s withdrawal to the 1967 borders; the radical posture, which does not define borders and calls for the application of all United Nations resolutions, “which in effect means the 1947 borders”; and the stance of the Palestine Liberation Organization, which “has never brought itself to accept any borders with Israel.”

European countries, Kissinger said, agree that there should be a solution based on the 1967 borders and with the Old City of Jerusalem, and “that is also the formal position of the Soviet Union.”

That solution, however, would create a corridor of nine miles between Haifa and Tel Aviv, and 3 miles between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, “and I have known nobody who believes this solution is compatible with the security or survival of Israel,” the statesman said.

Whatever the solution, he said, “I do not believe that the status quo can be maintained indefinitely.”

“The real decision that has to be made is for Israel to get clear in its own mind what its absolute security requirements are,” he said. “In my view, it cannot be the 1967 frontiers.”

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