BAGHDAD, Iraq — Yasser Arafat said Thursday he will recognize Israel's right to exist if the Jewish state and the United States accept Palestine Liberation Organization participation in an international Middle East peace conference.
The PLO chairman said such a conference must be based on all U.N. resolutions, not just No. 242. In that resolution passed after the 1967 Middle East War, the Security Council called for recognition of Israel's right to exist within secure borders in return for its withdrawal from occupied territories.
"We would accept 242" in the context of a conference, Arafat said in an interview at his military headquarters in Jadiriya, a southern suburb of Baghdad.
"As this will be under U.N. auspices, that means the full legality . . . of all U.N. resolutions, including 242 and 338" would be recognized, Arafat said. Resolution 338, passed by the Security Council six years after 242, called for a cease-fire in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War and implementation of 242.
He said U.N. General Assembly resolutions supporting Palestinians' right to an independent homeland and calling for Israeli withdrawal from land seized in the 1967 war also must be included in the forum.
Security Council resolutions are considered binding on U.N. member nations but those passed by the General Assembly are not.
Israel considers the PLO a terrorist organization and refuses to deal with it. The United States has rejected direct negotiations with the PLO in Middle East peace efforts.
In Israel, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ehud Gol said the PLO proposal "is yet another demonstration of the double talk of Mr. Arafat."
"We never took these statements seriously in the past, and we don't take them seriously now," he said.
Added Avi Pazner, an aide to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir: "There is nothing new in what Arafat proposes. He knows perfectly well that Israel is not ready to negotiate with him."
Arafat clearly was linking efforts toward an international peace conference with what he called the Palestinian "uprising" in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. He said the violence demonstrates the Palestinian will for an end to the occupation.
In the past, Arafat has made U.S. or U.N. Security Council acceptance of Palestinian self-determination a condition for his acceptance of Resolution 242 by itself, because it does not address Palestinians' rights to a homeland.