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ROLE OF THE PLO IN RECENT DEMONSTRATIONS Mr. TORRICELLI. If I could finally, I wonder if you could respond to the question of whether you see any trends that might be developing in the demonstrations in recent days. What is your analysis of whether or not the senior Palestinian leadership in the form of the PLO in fact, aside from whether it is currently exercising control, could exercise control over the various leaders in the current demonstrations. This of course raises the question of the President's comments that there was evidence of weapons. If I recall the quote, he said, "there is every evidence that these riots are not just spontaneous and home grown. We have had intimations there have been certain people suspected of being terrorists."
If you could then, finally, comment on whether or not this is just another case of the President's speaking getting ahead of his thinking, or whether there is any basis in fact whatsoever to support his conclusions.
Ambassador MURPHY. In its very first weeks, it was spontaneous inside the territories. The President was looking at the reports of encouragement from outside over claims from the various PLO radios. "Yes, the leadership is in charge. It is working exactly according to our plan. We directed there be no armed resistance, no use of weapons," this was Arafat speaking, but we may find we have to change that policy.
The PLO for those first weeks was posturing, was playing catch up. There is evidence of certain elements at work such as Dubrielle's organization with a radio station in southern Syria beaming in various incitements to the strikes and the demonstrations.
But here again, you speak of the leadership, at least the leadership in the territories. It simply has not been identified. The best answer I got during my visit to Israel was what's going on, and this was a month ago and it's a very dynamic situation, but a month ago what was going on didn't require that much leadership. Didn't require that much organization. There is no evidence that it was orchestrated today Hebron, tomorrow Ramallah, and so on. They were not big events. A couple of hundred people would be perhaps the largest at that time.
So is it a question of, you asked would the senior Palestinian leadership be able to control, they may be. We don't know. I'm not sure they know because this didn't start at their instigation. They are trying to exploit it. They are trying to get money into the territories. They are trying to get some weapons into the territories. There are weapons there.
One of the extraordinary events of that first two months is that weapons were not used and that it was a battle of the stones.
Mr. TORRICELLI. Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
ROLE OF PARTICIPANTS IN AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
Mr. FEIGHAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, like many of my colleagues I have communicated to both the Secretary and to the Prime Minister of Israel my support for the Shultz initiative and the personal dedication and determination of both yourself and Mr. Shultz.
I share the concern that I think Congressman Levine identified with respect to what appears to be the changed nature of the international participation contemplated under the proposal. I understand the Secretary's very deliberate use of phraseology and identification of the international participation as an "international opening.” But could you flesh out for us with greater detail what the plan would contemplate, if it does at all at this point, the role of the Secretary General and what the continuing role beyond participating as convening partners would be of the other members of the Security Council? What would be contemplated as their continuing role as negotiations might proceed? And then even beyond that, when negotiations, if at all, would be completed successfully?
Ambassador MURPHY. The proposal with its very ambitious time table talks of the possible beginning of negotiations, the first of May, and two weeks before that, the middle of April, the holding of an international conference.
The Secretary General at the UN would be asked to extend invitations to the parties in the region and to the five permanent members, so that is the formal role of the Secretary General.
The conference, the parties would agree to move into direct negotiations in bilateral committees. The Jordanian-Palestinian delegation negotiating with Israel. The Syrian delegation with Israel. Lebanon with Israel. The Egyptian role as well.
The role of the conference is that it could be there in a manner to be agreed. I underline that phrase in the proposal. In the manner to be agreed by the parties to the bilateral negotiations, to receive reports referred to the plenary, to the conference, on the status of their negotiations. That is as detailed as I can be with you today, Congressman. What I can assure you is that our view is not that of a plenipotentiary conference.
We have talked and got agreement over the last few years when, despite the fact there was no such single dramatic document out in the public record, there were constant efforts from Washington to get people together and start negotiations. We did get early on the commitment or understanding that the conference could not veto and it could not impose its will on the participants. So we have been thoroughly consistent. This is to be a non-authoritative conference.
What is its continuing role? To receive those reports. What is its role if this ends as we hope it will in a comprehensive settlement down the road? That is something we have to work out. I don't have an answer today on that.
IS THE PEACE PLAN'S TIMEFRAME REALISTIC? Mr. FEIGHAN. Let me ask you then, I forgot the term you used in description of the schedule, but it essentially was an aggressive schedule, an aggressive time table, and that is to be sure contemplating first some achievement of self government and then in the second phase, I understand it to be a nine month time frame, some dimension of autonomy. Is that schedule one of the stumbling blocks for acceptance, certainly to the Israeli government for a number of reasons. Not the least of which are their own internal elections scheduled to take place, some time in November unless called sooner. But the unlikelihood of even having ample opportunity, notwithstanding as you mentioned earlier, the foundation that's existed for several years or the infrastructure that the Jordanians may have established to some degree on the West Bank. Is it not still an unrealistic and unnecessarily shortened time frame?
Ambassador MURPHY. We calculated the time frame to take into account a couple of factors. One is that we honestly do believe the first stage is achievable in six months. Second, we are driven by the political calendar. We do want to get it to the stage, or the President wants to get it to the stage where it has momentum and the final stage of negotiations are launched under his administration so that he can hand over an ongoing process.
Is this a stumbling block or is it something troubling to Israel? Yes, it's troubling. But I can assure you that for every Israeli concern, the Arab side can produce an equally sharp concern. Hussein's concern, for example, has been that the transitional arrangements would be the only negotiation. Israel's concern is that the final status issues, are that Hussein would not take the transitional negotiation seriously if final status was to be started negotiating so quickly and Israel didn't have a chance to learn to live with the Palestinians as they achieved this political and economic control of their lives and learned to live with Jordan beyond living with the Palestinians. They often think in terms of the older time frame of the Camp David period.
It is faster. It is an aggressive time table. But we think it has got some guarantees as much as one can talk of guarantees at this point in the process, to meet each other's interests.
STATUS OF POLITICAL DISCUSSIONS IN LEBANON
Mr. FEIGHAN. Ambassador, if I can, let me ask one final question. This is related, but not exactly following the other two.
There have been press reports that there has been progress, at least between the parties in Lebanon, moving toward some political accommodation if not agreement. Can you update us on what positive movement, or negative, as the case may be, has taken place with respect to communication between the various factions as well as between the Lebanese government and the Syrian government. And whether or not the topic of Lebanon was on the agenda with the Secretary's meeting with Syrian President Assad.
Ambassador MURPHY. There have been no direct talks between the government of Lebanon and the government of Syria for nearly the past year. We have been engaged for the past several months in trying to first play the role of helping to communicate between the two governments, making the point which I think all accept, which is, the answers to Lebanon lie in Lebanon, and they lie in the compromises that have to be worked out, the formulas that have to be worked out between the government as represented by President Gemayel and his critics, his opponents, who are in and out of the government.
Those critics, many of them have spoken to him only through the government of Syria for the past year.
The issues have narrowed down, of disagreement between them, and these have been some very tough issues for the Lebanese body politic such as power sharing, the relationship between the President, the Council of Ministers, and the Parliament. The issue of deconfessionalization, a very sensitive one.
Our reading is that the parties in Lebanon are not that far apart to agreeing on workable formulas. Discussions are going on
Mr. FEIGHAN. Are you including the Syrians as part of that?
Ambassador MURPHY. No, the Lebanese parties themselves. As we understand from our talks with them, as we have heard from the various leaders in Lebanon. We think they are much closer than is often portrayed. So we are trying to do what we can to bring that day about when they will be once again negotiating face to face as Lebanese. At the moment, they're negotiating in effect through Damascus.
I think there are grounds for hope there. We would like to see constitutional reform adopted before the election campaign. Everybody is having elections this year, as you know. The Lebanese election is July-August, in that time frame. Get these adopted before the campaign.
Mr. FEIGHAN. The second part of that is, was Lebanon on the agenda with the Secretary's meeting with President Assad?
Ambassador MURPHY. Yes, it was. They discussed it. I had been there a couple of weeks before the Secretary's visit and we spent a good deal of time on the issue of Lebanon and the questions that would have to be worked out before there could be direct dialogue again between the two Presidents.
Mr. FEIGHAN. Thank you.
IS THERE A PEACE PROCESS WITHOUT AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
Mr. Secretary, I have a series of questions on the West Bank and Gaza, but before going to those I want to explore the peace process with you a little further.
As I understand your testimony thus far, the real purpose of an international conference is to receive reports. As a practical matter, we support an international conference because we don't think the King will come in under any other circumstances. Is that about right?
Ambassador MURPHY. We don't think any of the Arab governments would come in.
Mr. HAMILTON. None of them at all. Syria, of course, wouldn't be interested. Is that true of Egypt also?
Ambassador MURPHY. Egypt supports Hussein's position very strongly. Egypt a few years back saw the conference perhaps as a later event to legitimize, bless, the agreements that might have been worked out, but it fully supports the King's position today.
Mr. HAMILTON. So the U.S. position is that there is no peace process unless you have an international conference. Is that about what it comes down to?
Ambassador MURPHY. Right. That's what it comes down to.
Mr. HAMILTON. It is a firm conviction on your part, the Secretary's part and the President's part that unless you have an international conference you don't have a peace process.
Ambassador MURPHY. If it isn't, as we say, properly structured, which means limited. Could I add on that, Mr. Chairman, just one observation that again was discussed at some length in the region. There has been a fixation on the conference, almost an obsession with the conference, both in the Arab countries and in Israel. The one has exaggerated what a conference can do, and the other has been overly fearful of what a conference could do.
a Mr. HAMILTON. What is Israel's position? Does Israel here prefer an international conference that is opened just by the United States and the Soviet Union?
Ambassador MURPHY. No. There is no such position.
Mr. HAMILTON. What then is Israel's position on an international conference?
Ambassador MURPHY. Israel's position varies with Israel's leaders.
Mr. HAMILTON. Let's take the number one leader.
Ambassador MURPHY. He doesn't like an international conference.
Mr. HAMILTON. What does that mean? We just said a moment ago that there is no peace process if there is no international conference. If you take the position that there will be no international peace conference, then it follows that there will be no peace process. Is that correct? Mr. Shamir's position results then, in no peace process. Am I right?
Ambassador MURPHY. Right, sir. No peace process as we see it working, at least.
ROLE OF THE PALESTINIANS IN AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE
Mr. HAMILTON. Have we discussed with any of the Palestinians their participation in the international conference?
Ambassador MURPHY. We have discussed, and we regret that the Secretary was reduced to having to give his statement to the television in East Jerusalem rather than to the Palestinians who were going to meet with him that night in February.
Mr. HAMILTON. Why did the Palestinians not meet with him?
Ambassador MURPHY. Intimidated by phone calls purporting to come from, some from the PLO and some just from anonymous callers.
Mr. HAMILTON. So the PLO said to those Palestinians that might have been willing to meet with the Secretary, if you go there we're going to hurt you in some way, is that right?
Ambassador MURPHY. If you go there, in an arrangement where only representatives resident in the territories are present, we'll hurt you. We're happy to see that meeting take place if there are Palestinians from outside of the occupied territories present. Let them be American Palestinians, Palestinian Americans, let them be anyone else. But not just the residents.
Mr. HAMILTON. At this international conference, what do you envisage for the Palestinians? Can they only come to that conference if they are part of the Jordanian delegation?
Ambassador MURPHY. We are saying that all parties that come would have to accept, the price of admission is acceptance of 242, 338, renouncing violence and terrorism, and readiness to negotiate