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Peres Takes a Wait-and-see Attitude Toward Jordan Regarding His New 7-point Peace Initiative

Israeli Premier Shimon Peres said today that “it is too early to judge” Jordan’s official attitude to his new seven-point initiative to reach peace with the Hashemite kingdom that he unveiled yesterday in his address to the United Nations General Assembly. Peres pointed out that Jordan has not yet responded officially.

The immediate unofficial response, according to the Jordanian news agency, Petra, was that there was nothing new in Peres’ plan. Senior Jordanian officials in Amman had no immediate comment. But Jordan’s Ambassador at the UN, Abdulla Salah, told the news media that Peres’ speech was under study in Amman “where it is being given careful consideration.”

Peres, at a question-and-answer meeting with members of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations this morning, referred to reports that Jordan and Syria have reached a new agreement and called it a “significant development.” He said that if indeed the reports are true, it indicates that Jordan has given up its association and attempt of cooperation with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

According to reports from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria have agreed to exchange ambassadors after a four-year freeze in diplomatic relations. The reports also said that Syrian President Hafez Assad may hold a summit meeting with King Hussein of Jordan in the near future. According to the reports, the agreement was reached yesterday in talks between Jordan’s Premier Zaid Rifai and his Syrian counterpart, Abdul-Raouf Qasm in Riyadh.

Peres claimed that the PLO had in the last few weeks twice embarrassed Hussein. The first time, he noted, was the terrorist attack in Larnaca, Cyprus, where they killed three Israelis, while Hussein was in Washington trying to convince the Reagan Administration that the PLO should be part of the Mideast peace process.

The second incident was last week when Britain’s Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, cancelled a meeting with two leaders of the PLO when one of them refused to sign a previously agreed-upon statement to renounce violence and terror and to recognize the State of Israel.

In a clear-cut statement, the government of Jordan held the PLO solely responsible for the fiasco. Political observers opined that this extremely embarrassing development could be the first crack in the alliance put together by Hussein and PLO chief Yasir Arafat last February II which would have Jordan and the Palestinians negotiate jointly in the Mideast peace process.

ATTITUDE TOWARD THE USSR

Regarding another element in the Mideast peace process, Peres said Israel will agree that the Soviet Union should take part in any peace negotiations if it restores diplomatic relations with the Jewish State, which the USSR severed after the Six-Day War.

“We do not feel lonely without the participation of the Russians …. But if the Soviets reestablish diplomatic relations with us, then there is room for them to join the negotiations,” Peres said. He added that it was up to the Soviets to renew ties with Israel since they were the ones to cut the relations.

U.S. -ISRAEL RELATIONS ARE AT THEIR BEST

Peres told the Jewish leaders that relations between Israel and the United States are presently at their best. He said he was received “very warmly” by President Reagan and other Administration leaders in Washington last week. He added, however, that the only point of disagreement between himself and Reagan was the Administration’s proposed arms sale to Jordan.

“This was the only issue upon which we did not agree,” Peres said. He revealed that Reagan tried, without success, “to modify our position on the issue.” He said that Israel believes that the “delivery of peace should precede the delivery of weapons to Jordan.”

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