In the following interview, Mr. Peres elaborated on some points of his UN address. He noted that Israel is opposed to the PLO participation in the process since it was an active terror organization. In possible talks, Israel would present the Camp David formula. He did not see a government crisis in Israel as a result of his address which was deemed to be "dovish " by some observers. Text:
Q: Did you receive a signal from King Hussein and the Jordanians that they are ready for preparatory talks at the level of officials with a view towards the opening of negotiations?
A: The answer is negative.
Q: Was the information that you conveyed to the U.N. known to the Americans? Are the Americans trying to clarify the matter with the Jordanians?
A: Neither the Americans nor the Arabs nor anyone else saw the speech at the U.N. [prior to its delivery].
Q: I will put it another way: Do you believe that such preparatory talks between us and the Jordanians can be convened within 30 days?
A: I am not certain that it can be done, although I don't rule it out. I think Israel must maintain the initiative in its hands, and that the ball should be in someone else's court. The impression was created that the initiative is on the Arab side, with Israel constantly reacting. In my opinion, the time has come for us to show that the initiative is in our hands.
Q: Press reports said that you don't want to examine the credentials of the Palestinians in a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation, and that what interests you is whether they're registered in the PLO today, not what they did yesterday. Is this in fact your position?
A: I wanted to underscore that the PLO is not a former terrorist organization, but a terrorist organization today. You could ask the same question about Egypt: Sadat attacked us in a war, and we didn't ask whether he had ever fought against us. The moment he turned towards peace, we accepted him according to his current situation. But in order to make the answer completely clear - I do not see the PLO distancing itself from terrorism. I think this is no more than a pretense, and every journalist who asks what will be if the PLO changes is, in my opinion, virtually serving the will of the PLO, even if involuntarily. This is the question the PLO wants asked. Therefore it is so important to give the answer: Look, gentlemen, we are not dealing with biographies and histories. We are dealing with a policy of terrorism that has persisted to this very day. That was the essence of my intention.
Q: In your speech you spoke about the possibility of interim settlements with Jordan, and not necessarily a final peace treaty. If I'm not mistaken, this is a new position of the Israel government.
A: No: The government of Israel intends to present - if negotiations are launched between us and Jordan, or between us and a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation - the Camp David proposals. They speak of two stages: A first stage of autonomy, which is to last five years; and afterward there will be talks on a permanent solution.
Q: Your appearances here in the U.S. have been, I would say, moderate if not dovish in character, and this is causing reverberations in the coalition. Do you envisage a process of the government's dissolution in the wake of the positions you have put forward here?
A: That is your interpretation, not mine. I would like two things: When it comes to terrorism, that things are resolute and determined; when it comes to war, I leave no doubts where we stand. When it comes to possibilities for peace, I don't see why the Arab world has to always appear with an olive branch in its mouth, with us seemingly shuddering at this. Actually, we want peace more than the Arabs, more than anyone else. And it is this that must be stressed to public opinion. That is, both things: We are not afraid of threats, we do not hesitate to fight terrorism - this is not the subject. But when it comes to peace - we are truly open and ready to sit and discuss any proposal that is raised.
Q: You said that while it is written in the Bible that we have a right to all of the Land of Israel, but we as the Jewish people are not prepared to rule over another people. This is definitely a dovish position which to the best of my knowledge is not acceptable to the Likud.
A: Naturally, I was not speaking in the Likud's name. I said that this is the position of the Labor Party. And that's true. The Labor Party said that it does not want to rule over another people. I made a distinction between the government's position and that of the party, and I said this in all our interviews.
Q: Do you think that there is a possibility that your visit here will lead to a government crisis in Israel?
A: No, that is the last thing that will happen in Israel.