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Israel Continues to Maintain Low Profile on Hussein-arafat Accord

Israel continued today to maintain a low profile regarding the agreement reached between King Hussein of Jordan and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat on a joint framework for negotiations with Israel.

The Cabinet, at its weekly session, did not discuss the agreement, signed in Amman February 11 by Hussein and Arafat. But Israeli spokesmen continued to stick to their reserved analysis of the agreement even after its contents were officially publicized yesterday, including what amounted to implied acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 242.

The PLO-Jordan accord specifies five principles upon which their “bid for joint action” should be based. A key provision includes “total withdrawal” by Israel from “the territories occupied in 1967 for comprehensive peace as established in United Nations and Security Council Resolutions.”

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PLO AND JORDAN

Nonetheless, while the PLO’s Executive Committee has approved the draft agreement, there remained substantial differences between the PLO and Jordan. The Executive Committee said in a statement issued in Tunis last Wednesday that it continued to oppose Resolution 242. Jordan, meanwhile, has stressed it would remain committed to the Resolution.

The Resolution, rejected by the PLO through the years, calls for recognition of Israel’s sovereignty and borders in exchange for the return of Arab territories captured in the 1967 Six-Day War. The U.S. has refused to recognize or negotiate with the PLO until it accepts Resolution 242 and acknowledges Israel’s right to exist.

Israeli analysts here noted that although accepting Resolution 242, Arafat accepted it by implication and that there was still no explicit commitment to accepting 242 without equivocation. Furthermore, analysts noted that the reference in the joint framework to “comprehensive peace as established in United Nations and Security Council resolutions” could include not only Resolution 242 but other resolutions condemning Israel’s “continued occupation” of “the territories occupied in 1967,” including the infamous General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism.

OTHER STICKING POINTS

There remained other differences between the PLO and Jordan over the substance of the accord. The PLO continues to seek self-determination for an independent state which would later merge with Jordan. Amman, meanwhile, is in favor of self-determination within a confederation between the Jordanian and Palestinian peoples.

According to the text of the accord distributed in Amman, the “achievement of a peaceful and just settlement of the Middle East crisis” must include “termination of the Israeli occupation of the occupied territories.” The accord said a joint peace bid should affirm the “right of self-determination for the Palestinian people.”

Palestinians, the accord continues, will exercise this right “when Jordanians and Palestinians will be able to do so within the context of the formation of the proposed confederated Arab states of Jordan and Palestine.”

Another sticking point between the PLO and Jordan revolves around the participants to the proposed international peace conference on the Middle East. The PLO has made clear in the past that it would take part in such a conference as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people on an equal footing with all other Arab participants to the conference.

But while the PLO-Jordan agreement calls the PLO the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” it asserts that it will participate in any peace talks “within a joint delegation (joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation).” Israel and the U.S. have repeatedly rejected the concept of an international conference on the Middle East. In view of the differences which have surfaced since the accord was announced, some observers suggest that the PLO Jordan agreement might prove short lived.

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