JERUSALEM (Feb. 2)
Premier Shimon Peres briefed the Cabinet today on his just-ended 12-day trip to Europe. No details were released, but Peres reportedly avoided raising expectations with respect to the Middle East peace process and said he did not foresee an early breakthrough in contacts with Jordan.
There were reports from Cairo today that President Hosni Mubarak has invited King Hussein of Jordan and Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat to meet with him there next Saturday. Hussein apparently was unable to persuade Arafat to accept terms for PLO representation at future peace talks during their meetings in Amman last week.
There was also a report from Washington that Secretary of State George Shultz might consider a personal visit to the Middle East next month after a further shuttle mission to the region by Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy. Murphy had three meetings with Peres while the Premier was in Europe, once in Holland last Sunday and twice in London during the week. He also met in London with Hussein, who left before Peres arrived there.
FACES DIFFERENCES WITH LIKUD
Peres, who returned home Thursday after three days in West Germany and a visit to West Berlin, faces serious differences with his Likud coalition partners over Israel’s position on the Middle East peace process in general and efforts to improve relations with Egypt in particular. The most immediate problem is a settlement of the Taba border dispute.
The Inner Cabinet agreed on January 13 to Egypt’s demand to put the matter to international arbitration, but with an initial try at conciliation, insisted on by Likud. The process is linked to an overall package deal aimed at normalizing relations with Egypt, including the early return of the Egyptian Ambassador to Tel Aviv. The Israeli concession had a cool reception in Cairo.
Peres will consult this week with Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, leader of Likud and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin prior to the resumption of talks between Israeli and Egyptian diplomats to draft the terms of reference for arbitration over Taba. The Prime Minister is said to be resisting Likud demands for another full-scale Inner Cabinet debate before the diplomatic talks resume.
WEIZMAN’S TRIP TO CAIRO GETS A BOOST
Sources close to Peres, meanwhile, are putting out the word that Ezer Weizman’s hurried trip to Cairo for a meeting with Mubarak a week ago was not as barren of results as Likud circles have depicted it. They got an unexpected boost from Mubarak, who warned in Cairo yesterday against writing off Weizman’s mission and hinted it concerned much more than just the Taba dispute.
Weizman, a Minister-Without-Portfolio, undertook his mission with the approval of Peres and Shamir but apparently failed to get Mubarak to agree on a date for a summit meeting with Peres.
The two men who head the diplomatic team in talks with Egypt, Avraham Tamir, Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office, and David Kimche. Director General of the Foreign Ministry, have meanwhile let it be known they will not resume their mission until their respective political superiors reach some kind of agreement among themselves. Until then, Tamir and Kimche say, they are in the dark as to exactly what their powers and negotiating authority are.