JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
Premier Shimon Peres and Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir have taken diametrically opposed positions on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s proposal for talks between a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation and Israel, with participation of the United States.
Peres said yesterday that he thought Mubarak’s initiative was excellent and that Israel was ready to accept it without reservations. But Shamir, on his return from a visit to Europe today, charged that Mubarak’s proposal was a transparent effort to get the U.S. into official talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization. He claimed it would endanger Israel and negate U.S. undertakings in the region.
According to Shamir, “There is a connection between Mubarak’s proposals and his forthcoming visit to the U.S. that is clear to any observer, and I have pointed to the dangers of any effort to bring about talks between the U.S. and the PLO — talks which mean American recognition of the PLO. And in that there is great danger in our political position.”
PERES’ VIEW OF THE TALKS
Peres, who spoke of the Mubarak proposals in an address to the biennial conference of the British WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organization), said Israel agreed the talks should take place in Cairo, that Mubarak would be the host and that the U.S. would play an active role in them.
He warned, however, that Israel would not agree to an Arab delegation which included elements linked to terrorism. “There is no room for the PLO in such a meeting,” Peres said. “We invite people who are ready to use a microphone, but not a pistol, ready to talk but not to shoot,” Peres said. He expressed hope that the new stage in the struggle for peace would improve Israel’s relations with Egypt.
Peres explained why Israel objected to an international conference on the Middle East in which the Soviet Union would be one of the principal participants. “The difference between the U.S. and the USSR is that whereas the U.S. wants peace in the Mideast; the USSR wants a piece of the Mideast,” Peres said.
Meanwhile, according to reports from Tunis today, a PLO spokesman said that his organization rejected Mubarak’s plan for peace talks. He said that an international conference which would include a unified Arab delegation, including the PLO, was the only forum to solve the Palestinian problem.
Shamir, referring to the contacts this week between Israeli leaders and an emissary sent to Jerusalem by Mubarak, said Israel was interested in furthering its peace treaty with Egypt but only in the framework of the Camp David accords.
“If Egypt wants to improve its relations with Israel it should return its Ambassador to Tel Aviv, fulfill all of its obligations under the Camp David accords, implement all of its normalization sections and stop the anti-Israel propaganda in its media,” Shamir said.