Peres’ Call for Direct Negotiations Gets Mixed Reaction in Knesset

Premier Shimon Peres outlined Israel’s “peace plan” in the Knesset today, calling for direct negotiations between Israel and its Arab neighbors without preconditions, but no negotiations ever with the Palestine Liberation Organization. It got a mixed reception.

Peres maintained that peace should be achieved through a multistage process, the first of which would be negotiations between the U.S., Israel, Jordan, Egypt and Palestinian delegates who are not members of the PLO.

The second stage, Peres said, called for negotiations between Israel and a Jordanian-Palestinian team to prepare a timetable for a broader peace conference in which the U.S. would participate. That conference should be convened within three months of the narrower-based negotiations, Peres said.

He denounced the Jordanian proposals for an international conference and PLO participation which he said was intended to “bend” Israel rather than make peace. Negotiations can take place only with those who want peace with Israel, not Israel’s destruction.

LIKUD MK CALLS JORDANIAN PLAN ‘GIMMICK’

Likud MK Pinhas Goldstein maintained that the Jordanian proposal for a joint delegation with the Palestinians was a “gimmick” to lure the U.S. closer to the PLO. He insisted that the Camp David accords must be the only basis for negotiations with Jordan or the Palestinians.

Shoshana Arbeli-Almoslino, a Labor MK, said the Jordanian initiative was a positive step but also posed dangers. She reminded the Knesset that there is a national consensus in Israel: No withdrawal to the 1967 borders; no Palestinian state; and no negotiations with the PLO.

Geula Cohen of the opposition Tehiya Party assailed the Labor-Likud unity government. Labor, she charged, wants a political achievement at any price. Likud, under the leadership of Menachem Begin, established the “terrible norm” of territories in exchange for peace, Cohen said, an apparent reference to the Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

ABSENCE OF PEACE IN HUSSEIN COMMENTS NOTED

Avner Shaki of the National Religious Party said Peres’ political statement expressed the wish of the majority of the Israeli people for peace. He said he regretted deeply there was no reference to peace in any statements by King Hussein of Jordan.

Victor Shem-Tov of the opposition Mapam Party charged that the government feared the Jordanian initiative and therefore raised objections to PLO members in the Palestinian delegation as a way to evade negotiations. According to Shem-Tov, every Palestinian delegate will eventually have to seek the approval of Yasir Arafat and Israel knows this.

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