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Announcer: From the nation's capital, The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research

presents "Public Policy Forums," a series of programs featuring the nation's top authorities

presenting their differing views on the vital issues which confront us.

Today's topic, "Prospects for Peace in the Middle East."

Peter: I'm Peter Hackes.

For more than a generation, the people of the Middle East have lived in constant turmoil.

Four wars have been fought since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948, and the years

in between have been marred by provocations on both sides, endless border skirmishes and

raids, air attacks, terrorist activity.

Often, but with little success, United Nations diplomats have addressed themselves to the

Middle East problems.

American presidents since Truman, Democrats and Republicans, have tried to help by proposing

various peace plans.

Secretaries of State have tried but failed to develop a completely workable solution.

Members of the Senate and House committees that deal with foreign affairs have tried

also unsuccessfully to come up with the key to a permanent peace settlement for that part

of the world.

What are this country's concerns in the Middle East?

Why is permanent stability and that part of the world so very important?

What are some of the economic, strategic and moral issues involved?

Is there any reason to believe that the chances for a lasting peace are better now than before,

or as many people fear, are those chances, in fact, worse now?

Welcome to another "Public Policy Forum" presented by AEI, the American Enterprise Institute,

a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and education organization.

Today's topic, "Prospects for Peace in the Middle East."

Appearing on the panel are Senator Jacob Javits of New York.

Mr. Javits, a longtime member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has made several

fact-finding visits to Middle Eastern nations.

Senator Javits has served as a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly.

J. William Fulbright, former Senator from Arkansas, now practicing law in Washington.

Mr. Fulbright served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for 15 years,

the longest such tenure in history.

Mr. Fulbright himself a Rhodes Scholar, authored the International Scholarship Program which

bears his name.

George Ball, former Under Secretary of State, and former U.S. ambassador to the United nations.

Now, a senior partner in a New York investment firm.

Mr. Ball spent 33 years in government service, much of it with the State Department.

Rita Hauser, practices international law with a New York firm.

She is a former U.S. Representative to the UN Commission on Human Rights and has served

as a delegate to the UN General Assembly.

She was a member of the Brookings Institution's Middle East Study Group.

Our panel moderator is Joseph Sisco, President of the American University in Washington.

Mr. Sisco served as a Principal Advisor and Deputy Negotiator for Middle Eastern issues

during his 25 years at the State Department.

He served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs,

and also as Under Secretary of State for political affairs.

Now, here is Mr. Sisco.

Joseph: Welcome to another program in the series of "Public Policy Forums" presented

by the American Enterprise Institute.

We are pleased you could join us for what we expect to be an informative and lively

discussion on prospects for peace in the Middle East.

The history of the Middle East has been a history of lost opportunities.

1976 has been characterized as a year of opportunity.

Is it to be lost, and is the area to return to the vortex of violence and counter-violence

that has been so characteristic of this area over the years?

There are both positive and negative factors in the situation.

The balance of forces in the area, logically, is a deterrent to war.

But, logic has not always prevailed in the Middle East.

Peoples on both sides of the conflict are absolutely sick and tired of war, they are

ready to support another peaceful effort.

For Israel, there is the lingering disbelief that the Arabs want real peace and coexistence,

but rather are seeking, not a fundamental strategic change, but a tactical hiatus during

which another war can be launched aimed at its extinction.

For the Arabs, there is the deeply rooted fear that Israel favors territory over peace,

and these fears have been reinforced by the policies of the new Israeli leadership.

Yet, both sides have experienced successful negotiations, both sides are satisfied with

the three interim agreements that were achieved in recent years.

Moreover, an international framework for negotiations exists.

In November of 1967, the Security Council adopted a very significant resolution which

contains the principal elements of peace.

And yet, the chasm of distrust is, is very, very deep indeed.

I'm pleased to be joined by this distinguished panel.

Senator Javits, how do you see the prospects in the area at the present time?

Sen. Javits: I think the prospects have improved lately for two reasons.

One, that the Begin government can deliver, and this has been a problem with Israel for

some time.

Mr. Begin seems to have established a position based upon a new election which enables him,

in my judgment, if he does work out a peace agreement, to get it approved by the people

of Israel and by the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

Second, I find, and I've just been through the Middle East, an enormous combination of

deep war-weariness.

This is particularly true in Egypt which is the principal population center of the Arab

world, coupled with such grave economic difficulty, which, by the way, extends not just for Egypt

but for Israel as well, as to be a very powerful inducement to endeavor to construct the peace.

Finally, I don't believe that this is going to be accomplished in one fell swoop or by

some package that will be wrapped up and delivered by President Carter or anybody else.

But, the process, I believe, we have a pretty good chance now of seeing the process start

which will lead to a stabilization of the situation.

In short, I can't promise the moon and the sky, but I do believe that the prospects are

better than ever I have seen them before in a long while.

Joseph: Mr. Fulbright,

J. William: Sisco, the Middle East is, today, I think the most difficult of all foreign

policy issues to discuss objectively, candidly, and without rank in public forums.

The deep and powerful emotions in hearing of this issue find few if any parallels in

our history.

Today, the firm of Hogan & Hartson, of which I am a member, is registered as a legal representative

of the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

But, the views I express today long antedate that connection, and are spoken today, not

in my professional capacity as a lawyer, but simply as an American citizen concerned primarily

as we all are with the best interests of the United States.

Historical events beyond our control resulted in the United States being the decisive factor

in achieving a solution to the conflict or in perpetuating it.

Our role in this matter is fraught with the most serious consequences for good or for

evil for all of us.

I am concerned that an unprecedented and possibly irretrievable opportunity for peace is slipping

through our hands.

On the one side, the Arabs have acquired the necessary unity and will in moderation, to

accept a settlement under which Israel would be assured our reasonably secure national

existence.

On the other side, the Begin government, highly nationalistic and motivated by ancient historical

claims, as well as considerations of national security, is pursuing a policy which offers

little promise of an early general settlement.

Prime Minister Begin is able to sustain this policy only because the United States continues

to provide the indispensable economic and military means to do so.

Even though this enables Israel to resist and at times defeat the objectives and national

interest of the United States, it is, I believe, an unprecedented situation for any nation.

One objective of our national policy is, of course, the preservation of the integrity

of Israel, but it is not the only national interest we have in the Middle East.

It is the responsibility of President Carter to reconcile these various interests with

each other, and not to give Israel such absolute priority that it jeopardizes all the other

interests.

Some of these interests are, for example, one, to minimize or eliminate the Middle East

as a source of confrontation of the Soviet Union.

Two, to ensure continued access to the energy of the Gulf States essential to the economic

health of Europe and Japan as well as the United States.

And three, to support our solemn treaty obligation, and the principles of the United Nations charter,

and our longstanding policy of support for the principles spelled out in Resolution 242

of November 1967.

The essential elements of a reasonable peace settlement are now well known and widely agreed

upon by reasonable people of diverse personal sympathies.

The problem now is to act upon our own stated objectives.

By general agreement, Israel today has clear military superiority in the area, so the former

plea that she could make no concessions when weak no longer applies.

The premise that military superiority would make Israel flexible has been tested and found

wanting.

The only other incentive the United States can apply is to place limits upon, and if

necessary, reduce our military and economic support.

This issue poses a challenge of the highest consequence to our national leadership.

The question upon which war or peace depends, is whether the President of the United States

can muster the strength and determination to pursue a policy which is both equitable

to the parties in the Middle East and is solidly based upon the national interests of the United

States.

Joseph: All right, thank you.

Mr. Ball.

George: Obviously, the national interest of the United States is to avoid war in the Middle

East.

I can't think of anything that would be more destructive than another war and the oil embargo

that would inevitably accompany it.

This would be a new kind of war, both sides now have surface-to-surface missiles.

It would be a far more destructive war, it would engage the fate of the civilian populations

on both sides.

From the point of view of the larger world struggle, it would present a very serious

danger of a superpower confrontation.

Finally, the oil embargo, if it were invoked again, as indeed it would be if there were

a shooting war, would bring about a disruption of the unity of the non-communist world with

costs that are incalculable.

Now, how do we bring about peace, what is involved?

I do think that the basic outlines of a settlement have been known for some time, in fact, ever

since 1967 and the Resolution 242 by the Security Council of the United Nations.

What is required is, from the point of view of this country as we see it, a real peace,

not merely a declaration of non-belligerency.

And, I think that the government of Israel is quite right in insisting that there be

a real peace.

But, to have a real peace, there must also be a withdrawal by Israel from the territories

taken in 1967.

Substantial withdrawal if not complete one, but one in which the areas for discussion

are limited.

There must also be some provision made for a homeland for the Palestinians.

I think the situation that has prevailed for 10 years is intolerable.

I don't think that the United States should go forward in the position of subsidizing

a military occupation of more than a million people in the West Bank of the Gaza Strip

who were denied any suffrage, any opportunity of self-determination, which is a central

element in our policy.

So, I think we have to face this squarely, and I think we have to insist upon it.

And I think, as suggested by Senator Fulbright, we have the means to insist upon it if we

will.

These are the elements would seem to me to be essential to a settlement, and I think

that this is going to be a great testing of the strength and determination that underlies

United States foreign policy.

I think it's going to be a great test to the President, as to whether he has the will to

see this through.

Because, if he doesn't, I am very, very dubious about what the future may hold.

It seems to me that if the conference breaks down or if no conference can be held, that

there will almost certainly be an Arab determination to seek a military solution within the two

or three years that's required for a military buildup, they may now have all the money in

the world.

And that this is going to lead to incalculable consequences, which I don't think in our national

interest we dare face.

Joseph: Mrs. Hauser.

Rita: I think the situation is extremely propitious for peace in the Middle East for two fundamental

reasons.

First, this administration, as well as the preceding one, understands the necessity of

America taking a dynamic, frontrunning, leading role, in being the catalyst to bringing both

sides to a bargaining table.

And, both the administrations, Carter, in particular, now seems willing to do that.

Secondly, and very luckily, the Russian interest seems to coincide with our own, at least,

for the moment, all indications are that they would cooperate in a peace endeavor and would

not impede it.

If the United States, in taking the leading role, can understand that a measure of both

patience and care is required in getting these people to the bargaining table and not engage

in either the thrust that Mr. Ball advocates very often that is imposing a solution on

the parties, or wrapping up a package and offering it up on the table as some in this

administration have tended to do, but will limit itself to pushing, pulling, tugging,

easing the parties to that conference table, I believe as Senator Javits does, that both

sides really want to bargain and want to negotiate a peace.

The contours of which are fairly clear, and the problems about which could be overcome

once a Geneva conference got going.

It is the role of the United States to try to get Israel to the conference table, but

it's also our role to try to get the Arabs to the conference table.

And at the moment, the single impediment in getting them there seems to be the question

of PLO representation.

I hope, very much, that the administration is not succumbing to the easy prospect of

trying to get the PLO to modify its stand in some way, ambiguous as it may be, and then,

urging Israel to compromise and come and deal with the PLO.

In my view, that's an effort that will fail, it will cause incredible bitterness, and may

defeat the conference in itself.

In the Brookings Report, we envisaged a peace process that might last 10, 15, or 20 years.

As long as in the place of war, there begins a normalization process, people in the area

beginning to deal with one another, trade, culture, exchange, building for the next generation

which will ultimately produce the final peace.

Joseph: Well, I think this panel is all agreed that there is an unusual opportunity this

year.

I think, basically, each of the panelists have indicated that the United States' role

is an important one.

Now, there may be differences of view as to what that role might be.

What about American support of Israel as indicated by Mr. Fulbright, Senator Javits?

Where does that fit into our overall interests?

And do you feel as he does that the support of Israel jeopardizes these other interests?

Sen. Javits: Well, I certainly don't.

Senator Fulbright and I have deferred on that for almost all the 25 years he's been talking

about it.

And so far, time has been on my side.

The fact is that the United States interests have not been compromised, that we have more

influence in the Middle East than we've ever had before, that the Soviet Union is pretty

well counted out of it in terms of the ability to bring about a peace, and yet, the constant

cry for 25 years has been, "Force them into it, make them do it."

And both of these presentations of Mr. Ball and Senator Fulbright disregard the fundamental

fact that as far as Israel is concerned, it doesn't even have to lose only one war, it

has to lose only one battle, and it's finished.

And the Arab States have enormous resources, Mr. Ball just said that.

He said, "They have all the money in the world."

That does happen to be true.

As a matter of fact, for Egypt, which is in very serious economic straits, notwithstanding

all the money in the world that Saudi Arabia or Kuwait might have.

But be that as it may, I do not believe that these force majeure tactics are going to bring

about either a peace, or a stabilization of the area, or safeguard our interest to bring

that area into some kind of living condition in modern terms.

But, I believe that the example of the democracy of Israel, which is already having a material

effect throughout the Arab world, the fact that Mr. Ball, I don't know where he got his

facts, he said they've had no suffrage.

In the West Bank, they've just had within the last year, elections certified by everybody

including the enemies of Israel as being completely democratic, notwithstanding the fact that

most of the mayors are pro-PLO.

It's an unheard-of thing, honest elections in the Middle East, and yet that's what's

happened on the West Bank.

This process has to be given a chance, but the minute that we try these tactics of threat,

and you cut off their military support and leave them at the mercy of the worst elements

in the Arab world, is the soonest way to bring on war by giving the Arab illusion that the

United States is going to deliver for them what they haven't been able to deliver for

themselves in four wars.

Joseph: George Ball.

George: Well, I would like to amend one statement that was made a moment ago, or, at least,

to point out what seems to me to be a misconstruction of a position.

I'm all for the support of Israel, I think the United States should continue to lend

its fullest support to Israel.

The question for the United States is not whether we support Israel, but what kind of

a situation we're prepared to subsidize?

This is a matter of American national interest.

This is a decision that can't be made in Jerusalem, it has to be made in Washington.

Looking at this whole situation from the point of view of the United States, what is the

kind of situation that we're prepared to subsidize?

Well, certainly not a situation of stalemate that can lead to disaster.

Therefore, we should, by all means, use what elements of persuasion we have in order to

try to bring about a peace which we regard as, from the point of view of the American

national interest as well as from the larger considerations of all of the peoples involved,

fair and reasonable which meets the legitimate interests of all sides.

And I have a point that I'm simply making is that the Palestinians are denied any possibility

of self-determination so long as the present situation continues, they're, in effect, under

the colonial domination and the military domination of Israel.

And, I think that for this to go on for 10 years as it has is long enough.

That this is more than a million people, and I would espouse that the colonialism of the

kind that we see here is an anachronism.

Rita: George, I think it's fair since you speak of 10 years of a long occupation to

ask why it's endured that long.

Israel wanted decisive victory in '67.

The expectation of everyone including Israel was an immediate turn to the conference table,

which is normal after war and victory, and the Arab countries six months later at Khartoum

issued their famous three nos, "They would not negotiate, they would not recognize, and

they would not sign a peace treaty."

The consequence of that, an occupation has endured, which is not the thing that Israel

expected and I would say safely, most Israelis would like to see continued.

The problem has been throughout and it must not be obfuscated that the Arabs refuse to

accept the existence of Israel, they have refuted it on each occasion.

And finally, we have come to the point where they have exhausted themselves.

They know they can't win in the battlefield, so they are trying to get to a Geneva conference,

which is fair enough even though it comes late.

Yet, they still persist in dragging up this herring, this PLO, which, in fact, is, in

my view, a greater impediment to the Arabs than it is to Israel.

Joseph: The key question is, on the procedural side, should there be Palestinian representation

at a renewed Geneva conference?

The Israeli position is that they will not sit down with the PLO.

On the other hand, there are proposals that have been put forward by the Israeli government

that would include Palestinians from the West Bank.

Now, what about this issue of Palestinian representation at Geneva?

J. William: What if I could say I word about this?

I thought I'm still on the panel.

Joseph: You're very quiet, Bill.

J. William: Well, I didn't wish to intervene in you in this dialogue you had there.

There are two or three things that I certainly don't agree to.

This business of force majeure and forcing in doing.

All I suggest and still do is that, it isn't requiring them to do anything just to see

subsidizing their occupation and their war-making capacity.

They make war because we furnish them the means to do it.

And if they wouldn't do it, I think this is quite different from an imposed peace.

They are expecting us to continue to support this effort and occupation, and if they should

start a new war, a preemptive war, they would expect us to support that, I don't think there's

any doubt about it.

And one danger of this suggestion I've made is that, if we should do this, it is quite

possible, they would start another war and this would create a great emotional outcry.

This involves a political situation in this country which is the greatest danger of all

to the President or doing anything affirmative because of the effect it would have upon the

political structure of this country.

I spoke a long ago as 1970, that I was willing to both support a bilateral guarantee of the

integrity of both the Israelis and Arab States in the area.

No one is saying, "Leave anybody at the mercy of anyone."

It is to stabilize the area, and I'd be more than willing to enter into agreements in conjunction

with the UN Security Council with both sides.

The fact is, today, Israel, by common consent, I think, is far more powerful militarily because

we've given them far more and better weapons than all the Arabs together.

And if the military situation is quite satisfactory from their point of view, and, of course,

this makes them feel that they don't have to do anything.

And at the moment, they wouldn't have to.

I think the article Mr. Ball says, "How To Save Israel In Spite of Itself," is a very

appropriate one.

When you have political elected officials such as they have there and as we have here,

it's not uncommon that a man has to, if he feels that it is the interest of his country,

to take a certain unpalatable decision, he would like someone to blind blame it on to.

And I think the United States, because of its history and its position, is the one who

has to take that blame and ought to take that blame.

It's in our national interest to relieve the government of Israel from the necessity of

voluntarily making an unpalatable decision such as sitting down with the PLO.

The PLO is simply a symbol, it's the more current symbol of the terrorism which Mr.

Begin himself originated a few years ago long before the PLO was known.

It's the type of activity that naturally grows out of the kind of situation that has arisen

there and in other parts of the world, it's not peculiar to that area.

So, I think, coming back, it's the interest of the United States, is to settle that.

And if it takes the failure or the withdrawal of support of the capacity to wage war, I

think that's a very small measure to take.

Man: Well, if I might just answer.

It seems to me that we hear a real echo of the past without any regard to the present.

For one, the PLO was demonstrated in Lebanon what it really is, to wit an extremely disruptive,

not just revolutionary, but really anarchic force.

They can't even cooperate with Syria, one of the confrontation Arab States.

And they can't even tame the PLO so it won't wage an act of war today against Christian

Lebanese not against Israelis.

So that's [inaudible 00:27:42].

J. William: I don't defend the PLO, but the good of a conference which has been the agreed-upon

that is in general and get the movement going that could eradicate the PLO, to make it no

longer the kind of organization it is, would be, in the interest of Israel as well as ourselves.

But, you've got to get it to stalemate.

As long ago as '75, the same kind of sentiments were being talked about, and Mr. Kissinger

in all his efforts gave up and said it was hopeless.

And he then at that time, says, the intransigence of the Israeli government is too great and

we're got to reassess our policy.

Of course, he didn't do it because the Congress wouldn't let him.

And so, they ended up with these piecemeal things which have no particular value, I think,

they may or may not.

What do you do now under these circumstances?

And this is an opportunity and if you don't get it, I don't see how we can expect this

situation to just stay this way indefinitely, there's something bound to give, and it won't

be good unless some progress...

And, I agree with Ms. Rita Hauser, it isn't going to be all done neatly at one package.

It's the beginning of the process, the accepting of the principle of withdrawal, and the guarantees

which I accept.

And we must require the Arabs to do what they've said they'd do, the responsible leaders have

said they would do.

And, it will take some time, but we'd move in the right direction.

Now, there's no movement that I can see none at all.

And, recently, I thought the reaction Mr. Begin who at the face of Carter's, I thought,

very polite reception to go back and start two more settlements, it looked as if he was

just showing that, really, he doesn't have to bother about him.

And, if this isn't defiance of the most blatant kind of the U.S. government, I don't know

what is.

And to continue to subsidize that, it seems to me, is most unusual in the history of modern

political life.

Rita: But it seems to me, Mr. Fulbright, you had a long experience with subsidizing a government

that defied us quite frequently and in that we got ourselves in war about it, didn't we?

So far, by supporting Israel, we have managed to keep ourselves very effectively out of

conflict.

J. William: Who are you talking about?

Rita: Well, I was thinking about Vietnam, but we won't introduce that subject this evening.

J. William: Oh, dear me.

Rita: But, by subsidizing Israel, the United States is...

J. William: You think we'll get in the same situation.

Rita: No, to the contrary.

My point was absolutely to the contrary, by subsidizing and supporting a strong Israel,

we have been able to keep ourselves out of the area.

We have a strong ally whose interests are represented by Israel, and that has been one

of the effective pins of our military policy in the region, in addition to our moral commitment

and historic support of Israel.

What I think is of primary importance, is for all of us to try to understand that this

government, by giving or withholding, is not going to affect the outcome in the area.

I think that's a myth in which, with due respect, you engage and others engaged.

These countries have wills of their own, and they will use every known means to carry out

their policies.

We have seen Egypt, for example, a minion of Russia, drop Russia, come to the United

States, it plays the game as it sees it.

The Israelis will play the game as they see it.

Our interest should be, not to press force or otherwise induce them to accept a settlement

that we've preconceived, but as I said earlier, to take the hard but more modest task of trying

to induce them to come to a conference table.

And you're not going to induce Israel to a conference table by cutting off military assistance.

You're not going to get a peace settlement in this country by doing a quote, "reassessment."

I don't have to speak for the Senate since Senator Javits is here, but I would duly say

that the reason that reassessment failed is because the American people didn't support

it, that's why it failed.

J. William: Besides which, the reassessment resulted in the most historic move toward

peace that the Middle East knows to which Sinai II Agreement actually restoring major

areas of the Sinai including the oil fields to Egypt.

So, one can't just dismiss the process as hopeless and bankrupt.

The fact is that it has worked in that particular instance, and it worked before in the agreements

with Syria, and under the agreements with Jordan terminating other wars.

But the important part I'd to make is that we seem to be talking in a dream world.

The fact is that the Israeli cabinet has now decided that it's ready to go to Geneva with

the unified Arab Delegation even if that delegation has strong PLO sympathizers.

But it will not accept representatives of the PLO, and who can blame them because the

PLO still, notwithstanding all the blandishments of getting along well with the United States,

and with the other rich Arabs, and with our Arab brothers, have still gotten their fundamental

constitution that they want to liquidate and put Israel completely out of business.

How on earth can we ask a nation to negotiate with another entity which wills its destruction?

George: Well, of course, this is what negotiation is always all about.

After every war...

Man: But, this is during the war, George, it's not after.

They will their destruction now, there's no after.

George: The fact is that when you have a peace conference, you have it between contending

factions each of which would probably like to see the other destroyed at almost every

historic situation we've had.

I see no particular reason why you shouldn't negotiate with anyone if what you're interested

in is what comes out, not what goes in.

And, this is the important factor.

And, I think that this is being, "Look, we'll get around this problem, there probably will

be a Geneva Conference."

I think that misses the point.

I think the real question is, are we going to accomplish anything by getting the parties

there because in the present mood...

Man: Well, I think this is a key question, George, so we all...

George: ...were not.

I mean, they're so far apart that in their stated positions, that unless we can begin

to bring them closer together, I think a Geneva Conference would be a very dangerous enterprise,

a very high-risk enterprise.

Man: A failure would be a disaster.

Man: Now, this is an amazing thing.

This is what you want more than anything else, and now you don't want it?

It's fantastic.

You want it more than anything else, you want a peace conference, you want the Israelis

there...

George: I want peace.

Man: ...but you want peace on terms you write.

They may not be the right ones even for our country.

George: Senator, I don't want a peace conference, I want peace.

And they may be quite distinct things.

I think if one looks at the history of peace conferences unless there has been a good deal

of preliminary work done, and unless the parties are moving toward one another, to have a peace

conference could be a disaster.

And I'm saying right now that I certainly think that we ought to keep pressing for a

peace conference, but simultaneously, and even more important, we ought to be trying

to get the parties to come to grips with one another on the fundamental issues.

Joseph: But, the efforts of the administration are really proceeding on both fronts, the

procedural issue of Palestinian representation as well as the ultimate substance of an overall

settlement.

George: You don't have to defend this administration, you're not in it.

Man: No.

And, if I may say, Joe, look what a shambles was made of Carter's effort to do what Mr.

Ball wants the Israelis and the Arabs to do, to wit, to have it all laid out on the table,

everybody making their concessions, and then all you've going to do is go to Geneva so

it's blessed.

Now, Carter tried exactly that earlier this year, and all he did was to feed Arab illusions

and Israeli fears, and it couldn't have been a worse defeat.

Man: Oh, I think that...

Man: Now, you bring the parties there...

If I may just finish.

You bring the parties there.

The Israelis have undertaken to negotiate anything, settlements, occupied areas or administered

areas, every particular issue, they have said they're willing to negotiate.

And therefore, you bring them there and you do your utmost as a mediator, and that's what

the United States would be, to negotiate a deal.

I believe it can be done.

Why in advance say it can't be done unless you have advanced agreement which you were

never able to get, and which when tried was a disaster?

Man: No, I'm not saying it can't be done, I'm simply saying that if you look at the

history of peace conferences, unless the parties are moving in the direction of one another,

a peace conference could be a very dangerous thing because it could be the occasion for

a dramatic restatement of hard positions by each side and an ultimate breakup, which I

think would be disastrous in the situation.

Now, all I'm suggesting is that I think that we ought to be doing very hard work.

And, personally, I think that what President Carter has done up to this point is splendid.

And, I disagreed quite completely with you, Senator, when you suggested that it's been

counter-productive.

I don't think it has been.

I think that for the United States to put forward the outlines of their position has

really refocused it, and I think we're very much closer to getting somewhere than we've

been for a very long time.

J. William: Well, this business that is stated by the senator of New York that they're willing

to negotiate everything.

I mean, nearly everything that has taken place since Mr. Begin's visit would indicate they

have no intention of giving up any territory.

And what they've done in the West Bank, and they not only actually done but say they're

going to do, does not indicate they have any intention, whatever, of ever giving it up.

Nobody that intends to do that would continue to make settlements, and expend a great deal

of money doing it, I wouldn't think.

I see nothing indicating any conciliatory attitude even toward the United States, much

less the PLO by the spokesman of the government in Israel recently, especially since Mr. Begin's

visit.

Yeah, I see nothing conciliatory about it.

What's conciliatory about that?

Man: The fundamental conciliation has just taken place, the agreement to go to Geneva

with a unified Arab delegation and start the negotiation for peace with no holds barred,

and, the point Senator Fulbright, is including the settlements.

And, after all, I myself came back from Israel about a year ago, and I said, "The fact that

they make a settlement doesn't mean that juridically, they going to keep it.

Rita: Then, let's come back to the fundamentals which Joe Sisco pointed out.

We keep forgetting this, George particularly.

We have the contour for peace, that's Resolution 242 that calls for secure and recognize boundaries

which the parties are supposed to negotiate between themselves.

Why we drift away from that, which is the fundamental bedrock of our policy, is something

that baffles me.

The reason that the Israelis resist going to a Geneva conference with the PLO is not

obviously for the distaste in dealing with a terrorist organization, but the PLO goes

representative quo-PLO.

That's a predetermination that the conference is going to accord them something, that they're

going to come out of that conference with a state, a Palestinian state, which presumably

they would dominate.

That is something Israel is not willing to accept and, I think, rightly, because, in

my view, and you may disagree, it would be the most fundamentally destabilizing fact

in the Middle East as the conflict in Lebanon has shown.

Why people have tended to disregard this brutal, bloody, destructive conflict, who caused it,

and what the forces are that are at play, is also something that mystifies me.

We tend to ignore the destructive role of the PLO in it, and continue to say, "The PLO

must have a place in making peace in the area."

That's why the Israelis resist going to the conference table with the PLO.

And I think they're right and I think the American people stand behind that proposition.

J. William: Well, I don't think it's at all clear that all the blame in the Lebanon is

the PLO, the Israelis have been shelling it, and have positions in it, and so on.

I think it's very unclear just who is responsible for that [crosstalk 00:40:00]

Rita: That's not how the war started, Senator Fulbright.

Man: That's not how it's being fought

J. William: Well, this is not very clear either.

From the Israelis point of view, that's true, I don't know whether it's true or not.

Peter: The problem of attaining permanent peace in the Middle East, as you've heard,

is monumental.

Yet, there is a growing conviction that time is now running out, and if peace is to be

made and further turmoil in the Middle East to be averted, it must be made in 1977 or

1978.

That is why such great effort is being expended now to reconvene the Geneva Conference this

year.

Even if it is convened, its success is by no means assured.

Much depends, apparently, upon two basic developments, Arab recognition of Israel's right to exist

and Israel's recognition of a home for the Palestinian people.

Now for other ideas and to challenge our panelists, let's get the views of the experts in our

audience.

Joseph: Who wants to raise the first question?

Gentlemen, right here in front.

Hassan: I'm Hassan Yasin, Director of Saud Arabian Information Office in Washington.

I'd like to address this question to Mrs. Hauser who seems to know a great deal about

the Israeli position.

And I would like to ask her, do you believe that the Israeli government and people are

reconciled to the idea of peace and the creation of a state of Palestine in the West Bank and

Gaza?

Rita: I would have to answer that question, just my own opinion, that a large majority

of the population are not reconciled to that proposition at this point in time, and for

fairly sound security reasons.

A Palestine state on the West Bank without an elaborate security structure would be a

very dangerous phenomenon for Israel, and it's self-evident why that would be the case

in terms of the weapons that are in the area.

In the long by-and-by it may come to pass after a period of normalization in which the

region becomes one that is less hostile than it is today, in which the intent of the parties

become far more clear in terms of their peaceful intentions.

And that's something that I think is an important ingredient in a peace conference, to get to

that question after you have dealt with the other open questions of territory with the

protagonist states.

But, if you're asking me, as of this time and place, I think a great number of Israelis

would be extremely fearful about the creation of a Palestinian state even if there were

American guarantees of one kind or another.

Joseph: Gentleman in the second row.

Edward: Mr. Chairman, my name is Edward Henderson.

I'm a former ambassador of Britain to the Arab world, and I served for a long time in

the Arab world, and also in Israel, and in Palestine before.

I'm a visitor to your lovely country.

I have great admiration for many things here, and especially the stand which your President

has on the question of human rights.

One thing perplexes me, and I hope the panel can make me go away less disappointed, and

I think I might be otherwise.

Why is the PLO singled out as the only people who cannot represent their own people?

They are the representatives of Palestine but they are not allowed to speak for them,

and they are made to adhere to 242, but I do not see the same insistence that Israel

should adhere to it because they clearly flout it utterly.

And I should like a clarification, if I might, from the panel.

Thank you.

Joseph: Who would like to address that question?

Mrs. Hauser.

Rita: The PLO has proven itself in the Lebanon, in particular, and, certainly, vis-a-vis,

Israel, to be an anarchic destabilizing force which seeks to overturn the tranquility of

the area, not to speak of the safety and security of Israel.

It was accepted at the Rabat Conference as the representative of the Palestinian people

without any referendum ever placed to the Palestinian people, clearly shoved down the

throat of King Hussein who was not overjoyed at that prospect since he would be a clear

target of the PLO as they made clear in the famous Black October when they tried to topple

him.

Their interests are inimicable, in a word, with our interests in the area, with the Saudi

Arabian interest in the area, with the interests of the Western world, which is a stable region

not susceptible to radicalization.

The PLO is the avant-garde of Libya, of Iraq, of Algeria, of all the destabilizing forces

in the extreme in the area, and it serves no purpose for us to elevate them.

It would do well for us to try to push them down and out of the picture than the opposite.

Joseph: Further questions.

Yes, [inaudible 00:44:51].

Charles: Charles Phills, Middle East Estimates Department of Defense.

I would like to address this to Mrs. Hauser.

Mrs. Hauser described Israel as a military asset or ally of the United States.

And I would like her to clarify that if she could for us as to what she means because

it would appear that this interpretation would be somewhat different than the usual interpretation

that we have been transferring arms to Israel in order to promote a balance in the area

or to preserve some sort of American leverage in the situation.

Rita: Well, I need not say anymore, but that that has been the stated position of the Pentagon

for more than a decade.

It has continually pronounced publicly at hearings in the Congress that a strong Israel

in the Mediterranean is our strongest defense in the area against penetration by the Russians.

And that has been the underlying theory behind which military assistance has been given to

Israel.

J. William: But if it weren't for Israel, I think the Russians never would have had

any opportunity to make a foothold at all because the Arab countries have never shown

any disposition to be receptive, the major ones, at least, excepted in their fear of

the Israelis.

I believe General Brown did make a statement which as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs,

that there was quite a drain upon our military establishment in drawing off some of our best

weapons to ship to Israel, some weapons that none of our NATO allies seem to have.

But I don't think that is a sound reason for it.

Joseph: Further questions?

Joyce: Joyce Schub [SP], Office of Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware.

I would like to know if there's any general agreement in principle among the panel members

that a homeland for the Palestinians would be necessary for a permanent peace?

And, if so, which area or in which country would you suggest would be both satisfactory

to the Palestinians and least threatening to the Israelis?

Man: A homeland for the Palestinians, which the president has himself abandoned now, he's

now spoken of an entity rather than a homeland, presupposes the lack of a homeland or the

absence of an area which is secure and settleable by Palestinian Arabs.

But, the fact is that hundreds of thousands have been dispersed throughout the Arab world,

that the Arab world is enormous with a huge population, that Jordan is a country too,

in which there are several hundred thousand of the Palestinian Arabs, and that the barrier,

the only barrier that's arisen is this tenacious political clinging to the refugee camps on

the theory that that will be the greatest platform from which to get back into Israel

in terms of conquest.

Really, that's what's happened.

So, the Palestinian homeland idea is a homeland for what and for whom?

If you had a people that's homeless and incapable of being settled anywhere like the Jews, then

there was a reason for a homeland after, especially, the Holocaust and the persecution of Hitler.

But, the homeland here is simply a creation of the desire to have a political state in

which the PLO chieftains can be the principle political offices, that's all it really comes

down to.

Let us not forget that Israel can be cut in two in the twinkling of an eye if you do what

the PLO wants, which is to establish their state within the territory of the West Bank.

Just cut it's 8 to 12 miles and it's cut in two.

The Israelis have a right to be mortally afraid of that especially from an entity to which

the PLO, which has caused such anarchy and havoc in the Lebanon.

And, let's not forget that, that isn't words, that isn't descriptions, that isn't Arafat

being a moderate, that's death and destruction every day for months on end, and unremitting,

and unforgiving.

I mean, that's what the Israelis have to look forward to, and you've got to understand that

as far as they're concerned.

Joseph: George Ball.

George: Well, I think that one can't escape the fact that there are something like 1,100,000

Arabs in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

If we talk about giving them an area in which they can exercise the right of self-determination,

which seems to be quite fundamental in the American cradle, which I suppose is one of

the things that human rights is all about, then I would suppose that we have to give

them the chance to stay there.

There are 3,000 Israeli in the West Bank as against 1,100,000 Arabs.

Now, I don't envisage a transfer of population to someplace else so that the question is,

how do they obtain the right of self-determination in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?

All the indications are that if the people were permitted to a right to exercise of self-determination,

they would choose the PLO as their representative.

This has certainly been what the local elections have suggested where very recent local elections

had been overwhelmingly on the PLO side.

So, it doesn't seem to me that we're talking about people who shouldn't have a right to

a homeland, they're there.

There are 1,100,000 of them there, and I don't know what this position of them would be otherwise.

Certainly, to let them stay under a military occupation where they have been for a decade

seems to me to be quite contrary to all the principles which this country has represented.

Joseph: Additional questions?

Yes.

Ed: Ed Rosenbaum with the Middle East Studies Association in North America.

I wanted to ask a question directly about the issue of compromise, especially, toward

the PLO.

The history of the Palestinian Arab Nationalist Movement has shown that at various crucial

times in the past, the PLO or its ancestor organizations have been unwilling to compromise

at points at which compromise might have been advantageous to them.

I'd like to ask the members of the panel why they believe that the upcoming Geneva Conference,

if it does happen, will be an opportunity for them to change this pattern of theirs?

J. William: Well, I think that the real hope for a flexible, moderate, sensible Arab position

is going to come from the major Arab frontline states, and very particularly from the Saudi

Arabians.

And, I think that because they are the control of the money supply of the area, are in a

very strong position to bring about a moderate general Arab attitude, and, this is what's

going to happen as far as the PLO is concerned.

Sen. Javits: I think a footnote to that is, if you could ever get this settlement, even

though it takes time, as Senator Javits says, to settlement, that people like the Saudis

are so concerned about, we'll call it radicalization and trouble, that they would be most forthcoming

in all areas there to try to settle it down.

They do have the means and their first priority is to get peace in the area.

And, I agree with what you've said.

Man: Well, may I say, Mr. Moderator, that I think that's why I, perhaps, expressed a

little more optimism here earlier and throughout.

Because I do believe that the forces in the Arab world, and in the Israeli world, are

developing toward that end.

I don't agree with the conclusion that Begin will do nothing, and that he's uncompromising,

and that he's still got the Samaria and Judea on his mind, including Jordan.

J. William: Well, he gives that impression.

Man: Well, maybe he's a very good negotiator, Bill, and gives that impression.

But, the exigencies, in my judgment, as such, that getting the parties going on the peace

process will develop these ideas which we've been discussing.

Joseph: Yes.

[inaudible 00:53:05].

Emile: Emile Nacley [SP], Professor of Political Science at Mount St. Mary's.

I just returned from the West Bank, and since the issue of representation has figured highly

in this discussion, I would like to ask Mrs. Hauser to explain her strong rejection of

the PLO as a representative of the Palestinians in the light of the following five facts.

One, last year's election in the West Bank indicated a strong support...

Joseph: Please make it brief, please.

Emile: ... for PLO.

Two, Israel has so far failed in developing any new leadership on the West Bank other

than PLO.

Three, every academic study done by the Hebrew University, and the University of Haifa, and

the West Bank indicated that a majority of the West Bank Arabs indicated in this study

that they look at PLO as their representative.

Fourth, every study conducted among Arabs, Palestinian Arabs in Israel itself indicated

that they view that the majority views PLO as their representative.

And, fifth, the most recent statement by West Bank mayors, especially Nablus, Ramallah and

Hebron indicated that PLO is their representative.

Rita: Well, I think we have answered that throughout the course of this discussion,

there has never been a free and open plebiscite among Palestinians on the West Bank and elsewhere

as to who their representative should be.

The fact is, at Rabat, and I'm sure you all remember it, that decision was taken at the

insistence of the more radical Arab countries.

King Hussein was most unhappy with the decision, he has not quite accustomed himself to it,

seeks every opportunity to get out under from it, as do some of the other Arab countries.

What is important, what is important, very much so, is that the conference on fold without

prejudging that question.

Because, if you ask the PLO to the conference as a representative of the Palestinian people,

you have prejudged the single most difficult question that is to be faced by the peace

conference.

And, that prejudgment, I feel confident in saying, Israel will not accept.

And, I would like to believe that our own government will not urge that solution upon

Israel under any set of circumstances.

Now, if the PLO would like to accommodate the world and renounce its covenant, which

it refused to do just very recently, give up its covenant in which it swears to the

destruction of Israel, maybe the whole world would take a very different attitude about

it.

Joseph: I noted that a number of members this evening have alluded indirectly to the Soviet

role in the Middle East.

How do the panelists view the Soviet role at a renewed Geneva Conference and in this

whole peace process?

George Ball, do you want to comment on that?

George: I think it's impossible to be very categorical about it.

My feeling is, however, that if they're given a role to play in making peace, they would

rather see peace in the area than the great risks to them of further turbulence.

Man: I agree with that and I think we recall just a few years ago that Gromyko publicly

stated they would join in a joint guarantee of the area, and I think they've given every

indication to do that.

Man: My own judgment about it is that the Soviet Union enjoys targets of opportunity.

And I believe the vindication of U.S. policy so far is that we are the principal factor

there, and I hope we remain that, and that we don't give the Soviet Union the necessity

for making a choice because considering its backing of Libya and its backing of Iraq,

and its backing of a PLO, I'd be very worried about that choice, and whether it will again

choose as it has in Africa and in many other places, to fish in troubled waters.

So, I would hope very much that the situation remains as it is and that the United States

so intelligently uses the paramountcy of its position that the Soviet Union is necessarily

satisfied with this kind of accompanying role.

Joseph: Ladies and gentlemen, this concludes another "Public Policy Forum" presented by

the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

On behalf of the American Enterprise Institute, I wish to thank our distinguished panelists,

Senator Javits, Mr. Fulbright, Mr. Ball, and Mrs. Hauser, and also the experts, and members

of the press, and our guests here this evening who have participated so actively.

Peter: This "Public Policy Forum" on Prospects for Peace in the Middle East has brought you

the views of four leading experts.

It was presented by AEI, the American Enterprise Institute.

It is the aim of AEI to clarify issues of the day in the hope that by so doing, those

who wish to learn about the decision-making process will benefit from such a free exchange

of informed and enlightened opinion.

I'm Peter Hackes in Washington.

Announcer: This "Public Policy Forum" series is created and supplied to this station as a

public service by the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC.

For a transcript of this program, send $3.75 cents to the American Enterprise Institute,

1115 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036.

The Description of Prospects for peace in the Middle East — with Jacob Javits (1977) | ARCHIVES