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with one another. Now they would be there in a joint delegation and they would be there throughout because the problems of the territories can't be resolved without the Palestinians.
AREAS OF SELF-RULE DURING A TRANSITION PERIOD
Mr. HAMILTON. Let me ask you about the agreement for self rule during the transition period. What areas of self rule other than defense and foreign policy would be outside the parameters of discussion during this interim period?
Ambassador MURPHY. Would you repeat that, sir?
Mr. HAMILTON. We're talking here about some sort of self rule during an interim period, the transition period. What do we mean by “self rule”? I'm trying to put a little substance on the phrase self rule. Would foreign policy questions and defense be a part of self rule in this context?
Ambassador MURPHY. Speaking as the American position, as you know, we do not support an independent state. So we are not looking forward to a disposition of the territories where the territories would end up having a foreign policy and defense policy because those are attributes of an independent state.
Mr. HAMILTON. For example, would the Palestinians have control of the local economy?
Ambassador MURPHY. Yes. The local economy, local judicial, local political system.
Mr. HAMILTON. But they wouldn't control defense or security?
Ambassador MURPHY. Right. I wouldn't want to get involved in discussing what exactly would be in and would be out at this point in time. But I can agree with what you've given in that short list of responsibilities. The idea is a rapid achievement of control over their political and economic decisions.
ELECTORAL PROCESS IN THE WEST BANK AND GAZA
Mr. HAMILTON. What type of an electoral process do you see for the West Bank and Gaza?
Ambassador MURPHY. That has to be worked out.
Mr. HAMILTON. Do the Israelis support an electoral process for the Palestinians?
Ambassador MURPHY. They vary. They have different ideas about it.
Mr. HAMILTON. What is the government's position?
Ambassador MURPHY. I think there is concern at this point in time with the violence in the territories that the idea of having an elections concept being that in such disturbed times elections would produce the most extreme representatives.
Mr. HAMILTON. Do you believe those elections would have to be carried out with some kind of international supervision?
Ambassador MURPHY. We're not going to get into defining just how they would be carried out at this point in time.
Mr. HAMILTON. Who would vote in those elections?
Ambassador MURPHY. You're talking about the Palestinians. The residents.
Mr. HAMILTON. You have indicated that the Israeli-Jordanian talks on the interim regime were meant to be finished in a six month period. Is the time for elections included in that six months?
Ambassador MURPHY. No, they would come, however it is to be managed as to who takes responsibility for negotiations of the final status would be after the conclusion of the transitional period.
ISRAELI ELECTIONS AND THE U.S. PEACE PLAN Mr. HAMILTON. There has been some discussion in the paper that Israel may hold elections soon. If Israel holds elections what happens to this peace plan?
Ambassador MURPHY. This question is, well there are two aspects of it. Elections are coming no later than I think the date is November 1st or the first few days of November. The question being discussed at the moment is whether there are going to be early elections. But under the Israeli system, once the Knesset passes an electoral law there has to be 100 days allowed for everything to do with the elections. You are rapidly getting to the point where it's academic to talk about early elections.
Mr. HAMILTON. So if Prime Minister Shamir says we're going to have elections in Israel, then this peace effort probably collapses.
Ambassador MURPHY. No, I don't see any reason to assume that, because look back at the history of 1973. Israel delayed its elections that were scheduled for about the time of the October war. They were delayed to the last day of December of 1973. They entered into negotiations at Geneva with, in fact in an election period.
Mr. HAMILTON. Do you believe that this proposed time line that you've outlined-an international conference in April and then the start of transitional talks in May and all the rest-can go forward with Israel in the middle of an election?
Ambassador MURPHY. Yes. We think so. The experience is that they went forward in a very difficult political moment with the ne gotiations at Geneva and the disengagements of the Sinai.
PEACE PLAN TIMETABLE
Mr. HAMILTON. How long will this interim transition period last? Ambassador MURPHY. We've suggested it should be three years. Mr. HAMILTON. Is that a position that is acceptable to Jordan? Ambassador MURPHY. No one has said yes, no one has said no.
Mr. HAMILTON. They haven't specifically commented about that three year period?
Ambassador MURPHY. No. Jordan was always uncomfortable with the transitional period which was up, which was five years under the Camp David period.
Mr. HAMILTON. Do you envisage that when you begin negotiations on the final settlement that the Jordanian-Palestinian group would represent the Palestinians? Is that the group that will be involved in discussions on final status?
Ambassador MURPHY. Yes. There may well be a way of bringing into that group after the transition arrangements people who were not in it to start with. We don't have any fixed ideas on that.
U.N. RESOLUTIONS 242, 338 AND THE PEACE PROCESS Mr. HAMILTON. Prime Minister Shamir has argued in response to the letter from the 30 Senators that Israel fulfilled its commitments to UN Resolution 242 with the Camp David Accords, and that that resolution does not apply to the territories. How do you react to that?
Ambassador MURPHY. We think that 242 applies in all their parts to the territories, 242 and 338.
Mr. HAMILTON. I am curious about the basis of the Prime Minister's thought here. I don't think I saw it spelled out anywhere. Does he argue that 242 applies only to the Sinai and the Camp David Accords?
Ambassador MURPHY. That is his interpretation of 242. Beyond that I don't know.
PALESTINIANS AND THE PEACE PROCESS
Mr. HAMILTON. We had some reports that Ambassador Walters went to Tunis recently to meet with Palestinian officials. Can you comment on this?
Ambassador MURPHY. He went to Tunis recently and did not meet with Palestinian officials.
Mr. HAMILTON. It's very hard for this process to go forward if there aren't some Palestinians to talk to, isn't that correct?
Ambassador MURPHY. It's impossible.
Mr. HAMILTON. If the Palestinians don't come forward with representatives, then the process won't work.
Ambassador MURPHY. We have said for some time now that there are out there lots of serious and credible men who have standing and stature in their community. We have said that there is no point in trying to even conceive of a negotiation if the Palestinians who try to come to the table are such as would drive Israel away from the table. There is no Israeli leader who will sit with the executive of the PLO. That's a given. That doesn't mean there aren't credible Palestinians acceptable generally who can't come forward. But it is going to demand restraint.
Mr. HAMILTON. So any Palestinian could come forward and sit at the table if they accept 242 and renounce terrorism. As you put it a moment ago, that's the ticket of admission, right?
Ambassador MURPHY. Yes.
EUROPEAN-ISRAELI ECONOMIC AGREEMENTS
Mr. LEVINE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. You've asked a number of the questions that I was going to ask.
Mr. Secretary, let me go back to a colloquy that you briefly had with my colleague Mr. Torricelli when he raised the issue of Gaza. It seems to me that your response to that question and to the series of questions that he asked, raises one other point. I know it is a
view that we share, but I think it needs to be at least placed in a little bit clearer focus than perhaps it has been in recent days.
The point is this: whether it is Gaza or whether it is the entire peace process, obviously Israel cannot do it alone. Israel needs a ne gotiating partner. Israel needs an interlocutor. Regardless of what the Israelis agree to vis-a-vis the Shultz plan, it all becomes irrelevant if there is not a serious Arab partner for peace. And in fact while Israel is obviously deeply split on how to make peace with the Arabs, on the other hand even today the Arabs seem to be vacillating on the fundamental question of whether to make any sort of peace with Israel.
I just thought that ought to be placed on the table in the context of what has been occurring, because as we watch developments this week, it is important not to forget that reality, which I think came forth in your responses to some of the Chairman's questions as well.
I have two or three specific questions that I still want to raise
Last week, it was reported that the European Parliament voted down two Europe-Israeli economic agreements. One dealt with tariffs on Israeli agricultural products, and another with development loans to Israel. Apparently these actions were taken by the Europe an Parliament as some form of sanction against Israel in light of the developments on the West Bank and Gaza. I was wondering whether we have communicated our view of these actions to the Europeans? Do we support these actions? Do we believe them to be productive or counter-productive? And have we expressed an opinion of ours to the Europeans with regard to these actions?
Ambassador MURPHY. I'm afraid I was traveling last week at that time. Let me get an answer for the record on that.
[The information follows:) The failure of the European Community to conclude the two trade agreements with Israel rests on an unprecedented outcome in the European Parliament, where the absolute majority required to ratify the agreements was not achieved. The EC Commission intends to submit the agreements to the Parliament again this month (April) for a vote. If the agreements are again not ratified, the USG can approach the EC Commission to encourage its more vigorous lobbying on their behalf.
Mr. LEVINE. Could you simply answer with regard to your view as to whether these actions are productive or counter-productive?
Ambassador MURPHY. My understanding of them, but I would prefer to get you a more precise answer, is that the community or the Parliament saw it that they wanted to use certain agreements with Israel as leverage on getting Palestinian agricultural products exported directly to the European market. They have held back those agreements for the moment because they don't feel that Israel has given the facilities for export to the Palestinian farmers that the Europeans wanted given. Whether that is effective or not, I am not in a position to judge. But I think that was their reasoning.
Mr. LEVINE. I would appreciate a response for the record on whether we have communicated anything to them. I guess I'm a little bit surprised by your answer because it sounds somewhat different from an answer that the Secretary gave to a different question, but which perhaps is an analogous one in the context of this
process. As I understood his answer, when he was asked about public expressions of one substantive view or another regarding the Israeli negotiating position in this process, he responded that this is a time when Israel could certainly use support and certainly use her friends to stand up for her. He continued by saying that while it is very easy for somebody to be a friend of someone else when all things are going well, and I believe you as well, along with the administration have made a decision to assure the Israelis that we will continue to provide all of the framework and underlying bases of support that we have been providing in the past, and that criticism or pressure to the contrary at this particular point in time is not necessarily a productive form of activity.
Ambassador MURPHY. Your question was aimed at what the Europeans think they were doing. That's what I understand from
Mr. LEVINE. My question really was what does the United States think of what the Europeans are doing.
Ambassador MURPHY. First I have to find out what they did. I'm sorry. Let me take the question. But what you've said, I'd like to restate the administration's position that this peace process isn't going to work if there is any suggestion out there, any assumption out there that there is a wedge between Israel and the United States. If there is any doubt about our support for Israel, we'll watch this whole process evaporate. That's just a fact.
We are not fair weather friends of Israel. There are difficulties now. We are standing by the country. We have laid out in this proposal a proposal which we believe is the best designed, and frankly, we see it as the only likely way to get an Arab interlocutor to sit at the table with the Israelis.
SENATE LETTER TO SHAMIR AND ROLE OF KING HUSSEIN Mr. LEVINE. I appreciate your restatement of that, and I assume that to be your position. I think it is an important point to be restated periodically in the course of this process.
I'd just like to pose two more questions to you, if I could, and then ask for your response.
A rumor circulating at the time you were out of the country was that, with regard to the Senate letter sent to Prime Minister Shamir, you had cleared the content of it or the thrust of it in advance, that this was a letter that had received your prior approval in one form or another. I'd be interested, A, in the accuracy of that rumor; and B, in your view of the letter itself.
Second, I have been developing a view in the course of this which I'd just like to put on the table and get your response to. That is the extraordinary centrality of the role that the King is obviously playing and the potential for him in this entire process. Obviously his role is extremely delicate. I understand, I think, fairly well the constraints and the concerns that he must feel. Nevertheless, in the context of what is obviously a deep division within the Israeli body politic, it seems to me that the responsibility-or at least the opportunity-hinges more on the shoulders of one person than on any other person
in this process, for better or for worse. It may be not a wanted responsibility or a wanted opportunity, but the King, by communicating directly to the Israelis his willingness to move