Over the years, I have become depressed by the Arab tendency to substitute rhetoric for action and to assume that rhetorical declarations are a substitute for systematic involvement in dealing with a complicated issue. The Arabs have to realize that no one will win a home for the Palestinians and that no one will negotiate a home for the Palestinians on the Arabs' behalf. The Arabs themselves have to be involved in the process.

In 1977-1978, we came very close to engaging the PLO in direct American-Palestinian discussions, but at the last minute (Yasser) Arafat attached unacceptable conditions to what could have become a very constructive negotiating process. The tragedy is that (Menachem) Begin prefers Arab intransigence, and Arab rhetoric plays into the hands of those who favor unilateral solutions.

In my judgment, the time has come to recognize the fact that the Lebanese problem is in its essence the Palestinian problem; and in order to engage America constructively in a wider initiative designed to obtain a solution not just for West Beirut but for the West Bank and Gaza, an initiative with a political impact has to be taken on by the Arabs. It is a mistake for the Arabs to dribble out their concessions one by one with the result that they are negated one by one.

The concession that needs to be made involving the recognition of U.N. Resolution 338 and U.N. Resolution 242 and the right of Israel to exist ought to be calculated for its greatest political impact, and therefore be made unambiguously, because only then will it have the worldwide impact that is needed to move the political process forward. Arabs have to recognize that what is involved in such an act is not a bargain but a political act designed to change the political reality.