JERUSALEM (Jul. 31)
The new American Ambassador to Israel, Thomas Pickering, assured Premier Shimon Peres today that there has been no change in Washington’s policy towards the PLO, and that the meeting between a U.S. official and a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation will go ahead only if the U.S. is convinced that it will lead to direct talks with Israel.
The envoy gave these assurances at his first meeting with the Premier, held in the Knesset building. Pickering is to formally present his credentials to President Chaim Herzog next week. He will then return to Washington, coming back to take up his post permanently only at the end of August.
Pickering told Peres today that the U.S. is ready, if requested, to offer all possible help to Israel and Egypt to resolve the Taba border dispute between them.
Peres has indicated that he intends to raise this issue once again within a week or two, in a renewed effort to bring the Likud to agree to international arbitration over the disputed beach site south of Eilat. Peres believes that in the full Cabinet-as distinct from the 10-man Inner Cabinet–there is a majority favoring arbitration.
American diplomats and legal experts have been involved in previous negotiations between Israel and Egypt over interim arrangements at Taba, where Israeli entrepreneurs operate a major hotel.
The new American envoy also told Peres of the U.S. Administration’s gratification over Israel’s recent economic austerity program. Pickering said the moves in Washington now under way to expedite the passage through Congress of the supplementary aid package to Israel reflected America’s support for Israel’s belttightening moves.
In remarks to reporters here on his arrival Sunday, Pickering said the aid package would probably be processed before Congress recesses for the summer.