Peres and Palestinian Favor International Talks
Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and a Palestinian leader declared on U.S. television talk shows Sunday their willingness to negotiate peace through an international conference but clung at least partly to the positions that have blocked agreement in the past.
And Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, far from holding out an olive branch in the bloody clashes between his soldiers and Palestinian demonstrators, said Israel will continue meeting “violence by violence” in the occupied territories.
Peres and former U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger agreed firmly on one point--that there is no major role for the Soviet Union in a Middle East settlement, despite Moscow’s renewed interest. Both appeared on ABC’s “This Week With David Brinkley.”
Backs ‘Land for Peace’
On a satellite transmission from Israel, Peres said, as he has before, that he accepts the “principle of land for peace” as a way to break the stalemate. The foreign minister, leader of the centrist Labor Alignment in Israel’s coalition government, envisioned the return of at least some of the territory occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, but he said that Israel’s security dictates retention of certain areas.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, head of the conservative Likud Bloc, resolutely opposes relinquishing any occupied territory.
Palestinian editor Hanna Siniora, speaking on the same program with Peres, joined in calling for peace negotiations. But he repeated a condition that Israel has consistently refused to accept--that the Palestine Liberation Organization speak for the Arab side. More important, Siniora rejected Israel’s demand that Arab negotiators recognize Israel’s right to exist before talks can begin. The Palestinian spokesman retreated to the longstanding Arab position that negotiations themselves should constitute such recognition.
Peace With Neighbors
“Security depends on peace with your neighbors,” Siniora said. “And essentially, security of Israel depends on peace with the Palestinians.”
Rabin, like Peres a former Labor prime minister, asserted that neither Peres nor other members of Israel’s coalition Cabinet would give “one inch” of occupied land without a political settlement first. He welcomed this week’s scheduled visit to Jerusalem by Secretary of State George P. Shultz in pursuit of a new American peace initiative.
Interviewed on CBS News’ “Face the Nation,” Rabin conceded that military means will not bring about a solution in the current conflict in the occupied territories, but he said the Israeli government will continue to act firmly to end anti-Israel demonstrations. Rabin denied that the Israeli army is “out of control,” and he also answered questions about a widely publicized incident in which soldiers were accused of using a bulldozer in an attempt to bury four Palestinian protesters alive.
‘Full Inquiry’ Under Way
“Earth was put on them, not on their heads,” the defense minister said. “All those who were involved were put under arrest” before the public even heard about the incident. “They are (still) under arrest, and the full inquiry will be completed.”
“We are all ashamed of it. . . . Let us not forget that many thousands of soldiers are involved in the confrontation for the last, over two months. And there were, I would say, relative to the number of soldiers that are involved, very few exceptions, and all of them are under inquiry.”
Asked about deliberate breaking of rioters’ bones and severe beatings, Rabin replied:
“Our policy is to meet violence by violence. . . . Whenever there is a violence, we open fire, by tear-gas grenades, by a round of bullets, and once these means are not effective, we respond with force. . . . There is no policy of bone-breaking, there is no policy of beating as punishment and these are forbidden to Israeli soldiers.”
Reservations Over Soviets
Both Peres and Kissinger voiced strong reservations about the degree of Soviet participation in an international conference aimed at a permanent Middle East settlement. Their comments came as Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard A. Shevardnadze said after meetings with Shultz in Moscow that he seeks a “more active role” for the Soviet Union.
“I would never agree that any foreign country, Russia or any other country, will make decisions instead of us or will try to force us to make a decision,” Peres said. “I don’t accept the Russian concept that the international conference should be an authoritative conference.”
Kissinger speculated that an understanding in advance between Washington and Moscow and between Washington and Israel on the general outcome of an international conference might be “useful.”
Without such an understanding, he warned, “the Soviet Union can appear as the lawyer for the radical Arabs. We will be under pressure to impose a settlement on Israel, and the end will be either an imposition of a peace or the total isolation of the United States.”