JERUSALEM (Jan. 1)
The Foreign Ministry refused to comment today on a report that Foreign Minister Yigal Allon has proposed that Israel conduct “informal” negotiations with Jordan for an interim agreement at which West Bank Arab leaders would be part of the Jordanian delegation.
The report, by Ma’ariv’s political correspondent, Yosef Harif, appeared on the eve of Allon’s departure for Washington where he will meet on Jan. 7 and 8 with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and possibly with President Ford. According to Ma’ariv, Allon’s suggestion was the first by a ranking member of the government that included West bank leaders in negotiations with Jordan, an apparent attempt to neutralize the PLO.
A Foreign Ministry spokesman hinted that the reported proposal coincided with Allon’s views when he referred newsmen to the Foreign Minister’s speech at the Labor Party’s ideological forum at Beit Berl last week. Allon said at that time that when the time comes to negotiate with Jordan, “We shall want to consult both the Jordanians and the West Bankers on the way to include West Bank representatives in the talks.”
COULD NEUTRALIZE THE PLO
The question remained as to whether Allon was merely repeating in political consultations this week what he had said on the record last week or was actively pushing for an Israeli initiative in that direction.
Ma’ariv quoted other political figures as expressing doubts as to the feasibility of Allon’s proposal considering the reluctance of West Bank leaders to participate in such negotiations. The paper named Premier Yitzhak Rabin as one of those who “probably” opposed Allon’s ideas. The Foreign Minister reportedly defended his suggestion on grounds that it could neutralize the PLO and present Israel, for a change, as a country with positive ideas. Allon was said to believe that if the West Bankers reject his proposal, the onus will be on the other side, not Israel.
Allon’s visit to Washington is linked to the Security Council debate on the Middle East scheduled for Jan. 12 at which the Palestine Liberation Organization is due to participate. Israel is still maintaining that it will boycott the session because of the PLO presence.