PARIS (Sep. 8)
The heads of 19 Arab states today reportedly approved a joint peace plan for the Middle East based on Saudi and Tunisian proposals but also welcomed the American plan as outlined by President Reagan last week. The Palestine Liberation Organization, which attended the three-day meeting in Fez, Morocco, as the Arab League’s 20th member, reportedly concurred with these decisions.
The conference itself did not make public any formal announcement by this evening but Arab news agencies and radio stations announced that the leaders had found the American peace plan to be “a positive step on the way to peace” and have approved further negotiations on this basis. The Arab leaders have called, however, for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and for the PLO to be associated in all future talks.
The Kuwaiti and the United Emirates news agencies said Jordan’s King Hussein had told the conference he is prepared to negotiate with “all the interested parties” if he has the approval of the Palestinians. The agencies did not clarify the PLO’s formal position except by hinting that it had given its tacit approval to this suggestion.
FEZ DECISIONS FOCUS ON TACTICS
Western diplomats said the Fez decisions referred more to tactics than to fundamentals and aim at keeping negotiations going with the United States. The 19 Arab
The Tunisian proposal, based on earlier plans drawn up by 79-year-old President Habib Bourguiba, and presented to the conference by Premier Mohammed Zali, refers to the 1947 United Nations partition plan for Palestine. The Saudi proposal is based on the plan proposed last year by King Fahd which included a call for mutual recognition by Israel and the PLO.
Arab radios said PLO chief Yasir Arafat refrained from attacks against the Arab leaders attending the conference and stressed in most of his talks with them the need for a political and diplomatic solution. The French radio correspondent said that most of the participants made it clear that they want to avoid an armed confrontation with Israel.
APPROVE WITHDRAWAL OF SYRIAN FORCES
The conference, according to the Kuwaiti News Agency, also approved the withdrawal of the Syrian forces from the Bekao valley. Syria’s 30,000 men are stationed in Lebanon as part of the “Arab deterrent force” under an Arab League mandate.
The conference, according to the Saudi Radio, approved a Syrian withdrawal on condition that Israel withdraws its forces as well. The League, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, also reportedly promised Syria a special grant to compensate it for the losses it sustained as a result of its clashes with Israeli forces. The meeting also recommended a major joint Arab effort to pay for part of Lebanon’s reconstruction.
Western diplomats in Paris said the conference decisions, as they appeared from these first fragmentary reports, seem to indicate that the moderate Arab states had prevailed, apparently with the approval of the PLO.
All Arab League members, with the exception of Egypt, suspended since the Camp David agreements, and Libya, which is boycotting the parley, attended the three-day meeting.
In Belgrade, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told a press conference at the end of a three-day visit that the “welcomed President Reagan’s plan as a positive and constructive step.” Mubarak said Egypt has informed America of its overall approval though it still urges the creation of a Palestinian state and PLO participation in all future negotiations.