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Special Interview Conditions for Mideast Peace

February 26, 1981
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Haim Barlev, a leader of Israel’s Labor Party, a former Minister of Trade and Industry and former Chief of Staff, contends that there will be no peace in the Mideast unless Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians are ready to compromise.

“If Jordan will not join the negotiations (for a settlement)–there will be no peace. If Jordan, Israel and the Palestinians refuse to compromise, there will also be no peace,” Barlev said in a special interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the conclusion of his 10-day visit to the United States.

“Presently,” Barlev observed,” Israel claims all the territories. Jordan, on the other hand, demands the return of all the territories, including East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza. Without a change in these positions, no settlement can be reached. Peace can be achieved only if Israel Keeps those territories essential to its security, if the Palestinians would be satisfied living in an independent Arab state in which they are the majority, that is Jordan, and if Jordan would be content in getting back less territory than what she lost in 1967.”

“Does peace have any chance? ” Barlev asked, and then, after a brief pause, replied to his own question. “In my opinion, this is the only solution for peace. I think that if the United States, Egypt and Israel work in that direction peace can be reached.”


Barlev flatly rejected any possibility that Israel would be willing at some future date and under certain circumstances to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization. “No. I cannot foresee such an eventuality,” he said. “Not because the PLO is a terrorist organization, but because there is no topic for negotiations (between Israel and the PLO).”

The only issue to be negotiated, Barlev said, “is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and for Israel it is out of the question, an issue that Israel will not even discuss. One does not go to negotiate when one knows that the issue to be discussed is out of the question for negotiations. And let’s say that the PLO declares it is ready to recognize the State of Israel, even then on what can we negotiate with them?”

“A Palestinian state,” Barlev stressed, “is a danger to Israel’s security and at the same time does not solve the problem of the Palestinians, because at least half of the Palestinians are living in Jordan. An independent Palestinian state, therefore, will only divide the Palestinian people in two independent Arab states.”


Asked about his expectations from the Reagan Administration regarding the Mideast, Barlev expressed the hope that the new Administration will continue to pursue the Comp David process. He said he expects the Reagan Administration to take a stern, clear-cut view regarding the expansionist policy of the Soviet Union around the world in general and in the Mideast in particular.

“I hope the new Administration knows how to tell the difference between its true friends and allies and its ‘on condition’ friends.” He said, in response to a question, that Jordan is an example of an “on condition” friend of the United States.


Barlev, who is secretary general of the Labor Party, said that if the Labor Alignment wins the next elections, scheduled for June 30, as all polls have been predicting, it would restore “a functioning government a government that would restore hope and pride for the people of Israel. This will be the beginning of the change.”

The former Chief of Staff, whose name at one time was almost a household word around the world because of the Barlev Line on the east bank of the Suez Canal, said that his party’s message to Israel’s citizens is in two fields: the foreign policy of Israel and its economy.

He contended that a Labor government would reach an agreement an autonomy with the United States and Egypt. “We will be guided by Israel’s security needs,” Barlev noted, pointing out that Labor is prepared to give “more autonomy to the Palestinians but less territories,” while the Likud is willing to give the Palestinians less autonomy and more territories. “Labor is prepared to give the Palestinians full autonomy but not in the Jordan valley, East Jerusalem and Gush Etzion and not in the south of the Gaza Strip.”

On the economic issue, Barlev said the Labor Party believes in planned economy and the just distribution of the national resources and sharing the burdens by the different segments of society.

“We don’t think that the international energy crisis and the world-wide inflation justify the present inflation rate of 130 percent in Israel,” Barlev said. “The inflation in Israel was created by the wrong economic policy of the Likud.”

Barlev was in the United States as head of an Israeli committee for the establishment of a new American school of economics and business in Israel at Bar-Ilan University, to train present and future Israeli executives in the latest methods of industrial and business management.

“The nation’s future depends on its ability to win the struggle for economic survival by competing in the world markets, balancing trade deficits, raising productivity levels attracting investment capital,” Barlev observed, referring to the establishment of the new school. “The skills of modern business management administration, applied with the vigor and energy of Israel’s people, can assure the country security.”

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