No Quick Formula for M.E. Problems

Newspaper: Jewish Herald
posted on:
24 In jan 1978
Individuals - Anwar Sadat, Jimmy Carter. Security - Army. autonomy plan , Ideologies - Communists. States - Egypt, Jordan, Syria, USA. Greater Land of Israel - Greater Israel, Settlements, Sinai Peninsula. Knesset , Political Parties - Likud. Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - Palestinians, PLO. peace process with Egypt
In an interview, Begin discusses different topics regarding the peace process with Egypt and other Arab nations. Begin argues that self-determination does not mean independent statehood and Israel would not accept Palestinian statehood. He also says that although Palestinians will have free political activity, Israel will not allow an organization who wants Israel destroyed. Regarding which nations will have control over the West Bank and Gaza, Begin says that although the land belongs to the Jewish people, there are other claims. Begin strongly argues that settlement building in the West Bank and Sinai should not be viewed as detrimental to the peace talks. Begin says that the peace process is moving, and it's important that there is patience. The last question was about Likud members voting against Begin's peace plan. Begin responds by saying he was hurt, but will still pursue his plan.
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"No Quick Formula for M.E. Problems"



ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER, Menachem Begin answered questions from Newsweek's Bureau chief Milan J. Kubic.  Below is an excerpt with the permission of NEWSWEEK.

KUBIC: Are there any conditions under which you could accept the principle of Palestinian self-determination?  What if it were exercised gradually, and the decision about independent statehood left for the future?

BEGIN: The people of Israel could not accept such terms.  The concept of self-determination has helped many nations in their struggle for freedom, and it helped the creation of the Jewish state.  But self-determination does not mean the right to independence by fractions of nations.  For instance, there are 6 million Mexicans in Texas and New Mexico who speak a different language and are part of the Mexican nation.  Does that give them a right to create an independent state on U.S. territory?  Nobody would make such a suggestion.  The French give us advice about self-determination, but they don't give it to the Corsicans.  The Iraqis don't give it to the Kurds.  The Palestinian Arabs are 1 per cent of the great Arab nation, whose self-determination is expressed in the existence of 21 sovereign states.  It is hypocrisy and misuse of the term" self-determination" to say that it should apply to 1 per cent of a people.  The fair arrangement for the Palestinian Arabs is to have autonomy which will not threaten the security of the Palestinian Jews.  This is the only fair and positive solution.  There is no other.

  1. Do you regard King Hussein as sufficiently strong to undertake negotiations for the future of the West Bank? Is there some way he could be induced to enter the peace process?
  2. I am no judge of anybody else's strength. But of course King Hussein should join…in the peacemaking process. I invited him.  If he wants me to visit him, or meet him in a neutral territory, I will gladly do so.  But as for inducing him to join our peace effort, I don' think we should look for, say, a separate action.  The invitation stands.
  3. King Hussein has taken a very negative view of your peace plan. Are you satisfied that this is his final position?
  4. I take a very negative position on his negative position. My plan (is) the first proposal ever for (Palestinian) self-rule dealing with all aspects of life. If King Hussein says he doesn't find anything positive in it, perhaps it is just a form of speech.
  5. Your proposals specifically leave open the question of sovereignty for the West Bank and Gaza. How long do you propose to leave this question unresolved?
  6. The Egyptians do not have any right to the Gaza district, which they conquered in 1948. Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) were invaded and seized by King Abdullah's Arab Legion. There is a great rule in international law that you cannot derive a right from a wrong.  On the other hand, our right to sovereignty in these areas of the land of Israel is obvious.  It is our land.  It belongs to the Jewish people.  However, we know that there are other claims.  So we have reached the logistical conclusion of leaving the question of sovereignty open.  In the meantime, let us concentrate on building the foundations for peaceful relations…After five years, all of the provisions—including the sovereignty question—will be subject to review.
  7. During the past week, Israel has opened a new settlement on the West Bank and begun building several others in Sinai. Given the Arab sensitivities, aren't you concerned that these moves could be detrimental to the peace talks?
  8. How could they be? Our proposals include the right of the Jews to acquire land and settle in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. We have a perfect, unqualified right to settle in any part of the land, and we stand by this right.  It is no obstacle whatsoever to the peace process.  As for Sinai, we stated in our proposal for a peace treaty with Egypt that our settlements in the Rafiah salient will stay there, protected by the Israel Defence Force.  It is completely natural that we now want to strengthen these settlements.
  9. Will these settlements be in a U.N. buffer zone, or will they be under Egyptian flag?
  10. We have a proposal on this which will be discussed both in the military and the political committee.
  11. Is it true Israel will try to negotiate an exchange of part of the Negev for the Rafiah salient, so the settlements could remain under Israeli sovereignty?
  12. There is no basis for such reports.
  13. Would you favour the removal of the Sinai settlements rather than leaving them under Egyptian sovereignty?
  14. We're not ready to take out any settlements…(They) are there to stay.
  15. Would your autonomy plan permit free political activity, including the Communists? Would you allow the existence of a party that would clearly represent the PLO?
  16. Of course there will be freedom of political activity. Communists operate in our country, and are members of the Parliament. President Sadat met them when he was in Jerusalem.  As for a party clearly representing the PLO, it would clearly be banned, because we will not permit an organisation bent on the destruction of Israel.  The PLO is the basest organisation in history except for the Nazis…They should be outcasts, outside the pale of human civilisation.  I've made a study of these organisations, but I didn't find anything as base as the PLO.
  17. Do you see any way of moderation the PLO, or rendering it ineffective?
  18. I don't give a thought to the PLO. It doesn't interest me.
  19. Has President Carter tried to exert pressure of any kind of the state of Israel since President Sadat started his peace initiative last November?
  20. American pressure is simply inconceivable. Our plan was declared fair (by President Carter) and no pressure can be exerted against it to turn it into an unfair plan. I can tell you there has been no pressure, and I don’t believe there will be any pressure.
  21. Do you regard Syrian President Assad a hopelessly intransigent, or do you have a plan for bringing him into the negotiations?
  22. I invited President Assad to join our peace efforts, but so far he has declined. If he agrees to enter negotiations, we shall again bring up proposals and hear counter proposals, and start the talks. But there will be no initiative on our part regarding Syria until he decides to join the negotiations.
  23. Has the peace process moved fast enough?
  24. I think it's been fast enough, but we should be patient. Let us hope that (the negotiations) will be finished in several months, but I would not guarantee it. Every side wants to deal with details, not only general declarations.  As far as we're concerned, our life is at stake, and the existence of future generations.
  25. Do you actually hope to sign a peace treaty with Egypt?
  26. We shall not suggest it. We don't want to embarrass President Sadat, who said he wants a comprehensive peace settlement, and so do we. If Egypt came to the conclusion that the rest of our neighbours don't want to join the negotiations, and if it then was willing to sign a separate peace treaty—not as the end of a peace process, but as its beginning—we would not deny such a possibility.  But it should be an Egyptian initiative.  Objectively, there would be nothing wrong with such a process.  In 1949, for instance, Jordan and Egypt signed the armistice agreements many months ahead of Syria.
  27. How do you feel when members of your own party vote against your peace plan?
  28. Of the 45 Likud members (of the Israeli Knesset), only two voted against and one abstained, so that the support was overwhelming. But it hurts me to have to debate even with only two of my friends…But I am fully convinced that we're on the right road, so I will pursue this policy, even in disagreement with my best friends. As the French say, c'est la vie.