The criticism Secretary of State James A. Baker III directed at Israel last week at a news conference in Syria drew a rare rebuke from a predecessor - Alexander M. Haig.
"I was appalled to see our secretary of state condemn Israel from a platform in Damascus," Haig said in a panel discussion Sunday night at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.Traditionally, former secretaries of state do not openly evaluate or criticize the actions of their successors. Haig, who was President Reagan's first secretary of state, also questioned President Bush's formula for a settlement.
"I never believed in `territory for peace,' " Haig said. "Whose territory? Whose peace?"
He predicted the administration's effort to set up Arab-Israeli peace talks would not succeed.
"I don't see anything coming out of this, and I don't think President Bush is going to engage himself in this process," Haig said.
The parties have not reached the point where they are ready, on their own, to negotiate a settlement, Haig said, and the Middle East remains volatile despite the defeat of Iraq.
Haig said he was especially distressed by Baker's remarks because they were made in Syria, "a former client of the Soviet Union."
There have been no statements from administration officials since Baker left Jerusalem on Friday.
Baker was in Houston Monday to attend the funeral of his mother, Bonner Means Baker, who died Friday at 96. He is expected to report to Bush on his Mideast talks when he returns to Washington.