JERUSALEM (Nov. 11)
Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin proposed last night that Israel undertake a six month freeze on new settlements in an attempt to induce Jordan to join the long stalled autonomy talks. According to Rabin, interviewed on Israel Radio, there is little chance of progress in the talks unless Jordan enters the peace process.
A settlement freeze could provide King Hussein with the extra measure of strength he needs to resist hardline pressures from within the Arab world, said Rabin, a leader of the opposition Labor Party. He maintained that there is a “precedent” for a settlement “freeze,” citing Premier Menachem Begin’s agreement to a three month freeze during the Camp David talks as a gesture toward other Arab parties.
Rabin’s remarks were especially significant in view of reports from Washington that President Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz will press Begin hard for a settlement freeze when they meet with him next week. Reagan said in his September I Middle East initiative statement that “The immediate adoption of a settlement freeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these (autonomy) talks.”
U.S. officials have stressed this week that the President still very much believes in the validity of that position.