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Peres Supports U.S. Official Meeting with Palestinians

July 29, 1988
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Foreign Minister Shimon Peres expressed his support Thursday for plans by a U.S. State Department official to meet with prominent Palestinians in the administered territories when he visits Israel shortly.

He told an Israel television interviewer he had no objections “because we, too, meet with them.”

Peres was referring to the upcoming visit of Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

Asked if he would approve meetings with supporters of the Palestine Liberation Organization, Peres said Israel distinguished between members of the PLO, which it considers a terrorist organization, and people who hold certain views.

“We do not censor views, we only censor the pockets — let them come without stones, without knives and without petrol bombs,” Peres said, referring to the kind of weapons used in the Palestinian uprising.

The foreign minister, speaking on the English newscast of Voice of Israel Radio, said Murphy’s talks with Palestinians would not constitute an erosion of the American position.

Such meeting have taken place in the past, he noted.

Peres added that he was not convinced there would be no negotiations with the PLO, “just talks.”

Yossi Ben-Aharon, director general of the Prime Minister’s Office, agreed with Peres that there was nothing new about American administration people talking to Palestinians.

He recalled that Secretary of State George Shultz met in Washington with two Palestinian academicians who are members of the Palestine National Council.

Israel considers the council, a quasi-legislative body, to be part and parcel of the PLO. When it protested the meeting, the Americans pointed out that the two Palestinians are U.S. citizens.

The United States has promised Israel that it would not negotiate or have any contacts with the PLO until the PLO renounces terrorism and accepts U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which explicitly recognize Israel.

The PLO, desperately trying to achieve legitimacy, is seeking talks with American officials without conforming to the conditions, Ben-Aharon said.

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