The Israeli government today rejected suggestions by former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford that the United States should open a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization to advance the Middle East peace process.
Senior Israeli officials, who insisted on anonymity, said it would not be proper to openly criticize former U.S. presidents. They said the PLO is "as committed as ever in its opposition to Israel's very existence."
In a statement attributed only to "Israeli officials," the government declared, "The timing of these statements by Ford and Carter is especially inappropriate coming so soon after the PLO expressed its joy over the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat. At a time when there should be general support for the peace process in the Middle East, statements such as these can only encourage the PLO and other rejectionist factors in their struggle against peace in the Middle East."
Sources in the Israeli government also rejected a statement by Ford that Israel should consider accelerating its withdrawal from the remaining occupied portion of the Sinai Peninsula.
Israel, the officials said, has already lived up to all its commitments under the Camp David accords and should not be required to make any unilateral gestures as a result of the assassination of Sadat.