Peres Says Israel Does Not Need a ‘theoretical Peace Plan’ but a ‘partner for Dialogue’

Premier Shimon Peres said today that what Israel needs “is not another theoretical peace plan” but “a partner for dialogue” without preconditions.

In a foreign policy statement to the Knesset on behalf of the Labor-Likud unity government, Peres pledged that if there is a change “in the general atmosphere” in the region at this time, Israel will happily welcome it. “We will not hesitate to put forward political initiatives time and again,” he said.

Reiterating his call to King Hussein of Jordan to enter into talks with Israel “without preconditions,” he promised that any proposals put forward in such negotiations “in conditions of equality and mutual respect” would be considered “seriously” by Israel. Peres added that UN Security Council Resolution 242 should be “a bais” for negotiations, “but not a condition … there should be no preconditions”.

Political observers saw that reference as a bow in the direction of Labor’s Likud partners who opposed Resolution 242 when it was formulated in 1967 and only years later accepted it, but strictly in the context of the Camp David accords. The resolution calls for, among other things, “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

URGES PALESTINIANS TO ACCEPT AUTONOMY

Peres did not refer directly to the Camp David accords — as his Likud predecessors always did in the context of peace negotiations. But he urged the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to accept “autonomy for the immediate future.”

The Camp David agreements stipulated a five-year period of autonomy after which the final status of those territories would be established. The autonomy negotiations between Israel and Egypt–with the U.S. as mediator — broke down because of sharp differences between the Likud government and Cairo over the nature and scope of autonomy. Both Jordan and the Palestinians refused to be parties to the negotiations.

Peres referred to Hussein’s speech efore the Palestine National Council (PNC) meeting in Amman last week as “very interesting” but noted that the PNC, the so-called Palestinian parliament-inexile, rejected every one of Hussein’s diplomatic options and recommitted the Palestine Liberation Organization to “armed struggle,” which means terrorism, Peres said.

He did not comment on Hussein’s hard-line speech to the Egyptian Parliament in Cairo yesterday in which the Jordanian ruler denounced Camp David and demanded that Israel give up East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights in return for peace.

Peres called on Egypt to join with Israel in solving the outstanding problems between them and normalize their relations. He noted that President Hosni Mubarak, who was Vice President of Egypt at the time of the Camp David accords, had been “one of the architects of the peace strategy, and I expect him to continue leading it toward a regional dimension.”

NEXT STORY