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Remarks by Prime Minister Peres on the Hussein-Arafat talks

(February 8, 1986)

Intensive diplomatic efforts were pursued at the end of January 1986, with Prime Minister Peres in the Hague, King Hussein in London and Richard Murphy shuttling between the two capitals. The focus of attention was the possibility of moving the peace process. But much depended on the ability of the King to obtain from the PLO a renunciation of terror, acceptance of resolutions 242 and 338 and agreement for direct talks with Israel without an international accompaniment. Israel watched with concern the talks in Amman between Hussein and Arafat that started shortly after Hussein 's return to Amman on 25 January. The U.S. also negotiated indirectly with the PLO through Jordan and other channels. On 8 February, the Hussein-Arafat talks ended in failure. The PLO demanded an American recognition of the right of self determination for Palestinians in return for PLO acceptance of resolution 242 and 338. the U.S. refused and the PLO refused to allow Hussein to enter into talks with Israel on their behalf Expressing his disappointment, Mr. Peres placed the blame on the Arab side and expressed the hope that King Hussein will find the way to deal with the new situation. Text:

On Friday [7.2.86] it became clear to us finally that the negotiations conducted by Hussein with Arafat regarding international accompaniment to peace negotiations, ended in dismal failure.

This time the failure is an Arab, not an Israeli one: Hussein, whose genuine desire for peace I do not doubt, tried to hold a dialogue with the beaten Arafat. He invited him to Jordan, gave him place, territory, a chance. Now it emerges that Arafat is no partner for peace negotiations - not only vis-a-vis Israel but also not vis-a-vis Hussein. From the first moment I never believed he was. Arafat is today taking the place of the Mufti in refusal and rejection; and once again, the victims will be the Arabs of the territories.

Yesterday, then, we returned to square one, and the question is what Hussein himself will do.

As for Israel: We must decide how we are going to act regarding the Arabs of the territories - the West Bank and Gaza - about a million and a half Arabs.

The attitude towards the Arabs is no less important than the political framework. Ben-Gurion laid down iron rules: No dispossession, no expulsion. We must prevent even one iota of racism. No contempt and no humiliation. All of these are conditions for any policy or formal settlement.

Besides this, until a formal settlement is found, we must, in my opinion, aspire to give the Arabs [possibilities] of running their own lives, according to their way of life. We have no interest in running their municipal life in the spheres of education, health, and so forth.

To that end a great deal of wisdom is required on our part, and I hope it will be found. We must be careful that the heading 'unilateral autonomy' will not be interpreted as imposing a burden on the Arabs.

We must continue to seek political alternatives that combine moral, political and security considerations.

Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs