Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon said in Jerusalem today that while U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim will receive the honors due his position when he comes here Thursday, Israel has "no intention of according the United Nation any role in the Middle East peace negotiations."
Washington Post correspondent H.D.S. Greenway reported that Allon's statement was the clearest public expression of what Israeli officials have been saying privately since the Waldheim peace mission to the Middle East was first announced - that he can come if he likes but that he is not going to accomplish anything here.
Waldheim arrived in Beirut today at the mid-point on his five-nation Middle East tour and said that he is convinced that Arab leaders are sincerely pushing for a settlement of their disputes with Israel, Washington Post corresponent Stuart Auerbach reported from the Lebanese capital.
Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told Waldheim that he was disappointed with Israel's failure to respond to the "enormous concessions" made by Arabs, informed sources in Beirut said.
Arafat was reported to have asked Waldheim, "What more can we do?" to promote renewed Middle East peace talks in Geneva this spring.
Sources in Beirut said Arafat reiterated to Waldheim the PLO's willingness to establish a Palestinian state on the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip, both now occupied by Israel. The sources said the PLO position could be interpreted as "indirect acceptance" of Israel.
At an airport news conference in Beirut, Waldheim said his next task is to persuade Israel that the Arab nations are serious about wanting a peaceful solution to 30 years of hostility in the Middle East. He said, however, that he has no intention of acting as a mediator.
Waldheim has already visited Cairo and Damascus and intends to visit Amman and Jerusalem after Beirut. He is to talk to all the parties to hasten peace talks.
But Allon said today that Israel's position is that the United Nations cannot play a peacemaking role because the General Assembly has adopted resolutions that have "contradicted" U.N. resolutions 338 and 242 - the resolutions on which there was a consensus that a Middle East settlement should be reached by negotiations among the parties involved. Allon was referring to last autumn's Syrian and Egyptian resoltuions, which Israel rejected because they sought to have the United Nations play a role in reaching a solution.
Israel fears U.N. involvement because Israel's supporters are considerably outnumbered there by Arab, Soviet bloc and Third World forces.
The Israelis look upon the United States as the sole mediator between Israel and its Arab neighbors. With Secretary of State Cyrus Vance arriving later this month, Israel apparently sees little purposes in being anything more than diplomatically correct to Secretary Waldheim.
Israel's U.N. ambassador, Chaim Herzong, preparing for the Vance visit, told Israeli radio today that he fears that the Carter administration might place more importance on the United Nations than the Ford administration did.
"When one hears of the possibility that the President of the United States will come to the Security Council meeting when the United States will be presiding, which means that he will be presiding over the Security Council meeting," he said, "this obviously attaches a certain importance to the body and we are not happy about it."
Allon's remarks were made as he left Israel for Brussels to sign an agreement between Israel and the Common Market and to meet with some Common Market foreign ministers. He will return for Waldheim's visit.
[France and Israel agreed to review their extradition treaty in a first move to improve relations damaged by the French release of Palestinian commando leader Abu Daoud, according to French officials in Paris, Reuter reported.]