Kissinger's Peace Negotiations in the Middle East

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Secretary of State John Kerry announced the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations last week saying that "if everything goes as expected," negotiators for each side will meet in Washington "within a week or so."

Renewing negotiations has been a priority for Kerry, who has traveled to Israel six times since assuming office in January. But it's also been a major focus of previous administrations, going back decades, and it has been a topic discussed decade after decade on "Face the Nation."

In 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger also made peace in the Middle East a priority, making eleven trips to Israel in his first two years. On September 7, 1975, Yasser Arafat appeared on Face the Nation to talk about Kissinger's attempts to broker peace negotiations between Egypt and Israel:

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MR. KALB: And what, sir, do you think of the way Dr. Kissinger has been going through these diplomatic negotiations? What is your assessment of Dr. Kissinger's approach?  

ARAFAT: The same thing. He is representing the American official policy which ignores the rights of Palestinians and the centrality of the Palestinian issue. The PLO has been recognized by 105 countries. The United States does not recognize the PLO and Dr. Kissinger doesn't recognize it. How can a doctor solve the problem of a sick man who has a basic malady, and he just solves the symptoms? And this is apparently a solution of Dr. Kissinger's.

Arafat was adamant about having a Palestinian a voice at the table, and considered the Palestinian Liberation Organization's involvement crucial to peace negotiations in the Middle East. Two months after Arafat's appearance on the show, the United Nations gave him a place at the table by passing resolution 3375, which invited the PLO to participate in the efforts for peace in the Middle East. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin vowed that Israel would never sit down in the U.N. with the PLO, despite Kissinger's advice that it ought to do so. Just a month later, on December 14, 1975, Israeli Defense Minister Shimon Peres appeared on Face the Nation, reiterating Rabin's statement that Israel wouldn't attend the upcoming UN Security Council meeting.

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HERMAN: You think you may suffer from your absence? The PLO being there?  

PERES: I don't think so. I think Israel has nothing to gain, and may I say furthermore that the United Nations became, from our point of view, a real problem, because it takes such strong and extreme positions, which doesn't enable the Arabs to be more moderate or lenient.

But Peres remained positive about the state of Israel's relationship with the U.S.

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PERES: ...We have a coordinated policy up to a point with the United States of America, which is very dear to our hearts, and which we appreciate. We know in a free world you can't have a hundred percent agreement, a hundred percent of the time, to wake up every morning and say you and us are thinking alike. 

HERMAN: Are we thinking less like today than we were six months ago? 

PERES: Naturally, things from Washington, when it comes to Jerusalem, look differently than things from Jerusalem, looking back at our own homes and problems. 

HERMAN: I don't know whether that means yes or no. Do you think-- 

PERES: There is, I would say, a 60 or 70 percent agreement, and 20 or 40 per cent probably different of opinion. 

HERMAN: Mr. Minister, you say that we do have a coordinated policy. You know that the United States is pressing hard on your country to take a less, if I may use the word, intransigent position on the PLO. Now you're asking us for two and a half billion dollars, not just for one year but for each of the next four years. Don't you think that Israelis should the Israeli government should give the American administration and the American people a little more thoughtfulness on some of these political issues, in payment, political payment, for what the American people are doing for Israel? 

PERES: Undoubtedly that we must consider very carefully any request made by the American people and the American administration, but I'm not aware at all that the American administration is asking anything about the PLO.  


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    Louise Dufresne is an Associate Producer for Face the Nation.