JERUSALEM (Oct. 31)
Sources close to Premier Shimon Peres today issued a withering denial of the spate of rumors and reports centering on a purported secret Peres peace plan.
” Likud ministers,” the sources said, “dream up an ostensible plan, write top secret on it, fill it full of fanciful fictions, sign it Shimon Peres — and then demand clarifications from the Prime Minister.”
The sources said there would be nosuch “clarifications” forthcoming from Peres. “Let those who dreamed up the plan clarify it,” they said.
This reaction came in response to ongoing public expressions of concern, and criticism from the rightwing. The latest of these came late last night when the Tehiya leadership published what it said was Peres’ secret peace plan as conveyed to King Hussein of Jordan.
This was in essence similar to earlier reports — focusing on a broad autonomy arrangement for West Bankers under an Israeli-Jordanian condominium, or “shared power.” But the Tehiya report added one element: there would be some symbolic Jordanian flag or presence in the Moslem holy places atop the Temple Mount.
CREDENCE ATTACHED TO VARIOUS REPORTS
Despite this latest denial from Peres’ office; observers here continue to attach more credence to the various reports, regardless of their discrepancies, than to the Premier’s aides’blanket denials.
The feeling in political quarters here — and it extends beyond the Likud and Tehiya — is that Peres is indeed engaged in an intensive though discreet dialogue with Jordan, with the knowledge and encouragement of the United States.
The U.S. State Department’s appointments this week of Wat Cluverius and Morris Draper to key roles in the Mideast peace process are seen as confirming America’s assessment that Peres’ public statements and private diplomacy present a real chance of making progress.
The condominium scheme was presented to King Hussin, according to various reports here, as an interim arrangement — along the lines of the Camp David autonomy scheme which is also intended for a five-year in terim period.
Peres’ proposal, however, is said to be far more generous than the Likud government’s autonomy bluepint. It would give over most elements of domestic affairs to an elected Palestinian leadership, security would be administered jointly by Israel and Jordan, and Jordan generally would have a much higher profile role than that envisaged under the original autonomy proposal by Menachem Begin when he was Premier or under the Camp David accords.
According to the Tehiya version, Jewish settlement would be effectively frozen at its present level of land-occupancy.
Hussein’s reaction is reported here to have been favorable in principle, though he is said to be adamant in his insistence on an international conference as the suitable auspices to begin practical negotiations.
For this reason, apparently, Peres has been determinedly withstanding Likud pressure to come out against any form of “international auspices.” Likud hardline Commerce Minister Ariel Sharon said today he had information to the effect that Syria had indicated its willingness to participate in an international peace conference, alongside the Soviet Union and the PLO. Sharon reiterated his oft-voiced accusation that Peres is conducting crucial secret diplomacy behind the Cabinet’s back.
The Likud ministers, caucusing last night, resolved to demand that Peres fully brief the Inner Cabinet on all diplomatic developments.
Deputy Premier and Likud leader Yitzhak Shamir said on television last night that he did not see in the so-called Peres initiative anything cataclysmic or radically new. He said he had not heard of any condominium proposal, and that if such a plan had indeed been advanced to Jordan, that would make the continued existence of the unity government virtually untenable.
Shamir was pessimistic regarding the chances of progress, since, he said, Hussein was still reluctant to cut himself free from the stultifying hold of Yasir Arafat’s PLO.