PARIS (Jan. 25)
Vice Premier and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres asserted here Saturday that Israel would back an international conference for peace in the Middle East but warned that speed is essential in advancing the peace process because the Iran-Iraq war, continued unrest in Lebanon and Arab economic difficulties threaten to destabilize the entire region.
But while Peres, at separate meetings with President Francois Mitterrand and Premier Jacques Chirac, was elucidating in some detail the condition Israel would attach to such a conference and how it might be organized, Premier Yitzhak Shamir flatly rejected the idea. An international conference “will not bring peace or blessings to Israel,” he said. (See separate story.)
Peres, who arrived here from London Saturday, met with Mitterrand at the Elysee Palace for lunch and later conferred with Chirac. He met Sunday morning with Foreign Minister Jean-Bernard Raimond. At those meetings he stressed Israel’s desire to see the peace process resumed at the earliest possible time and maintained that the recent visit to the Middle East by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Richard Murphy succeeded in paving the way for an international peace forum.
THREE POINTS MUST BE SETTLED
However, Peres told his hosts, three points must be settled: Israel considers the participation of the Soviet Union in a peace conference possible only after Moscow renews diplomatic ties with Israel and restores normal relations with the Jewish State.
Secondly, the duration of the conference should be settled in advance. The conference itself should be a strictly formal affair which would launch negotiations between the parties. Actual negotiations should be conducted by various subcommittees, for example, a Lebanese-Israeli subcommittee, another composed of Syria and Israel and third of Israel, Jordan and a Palestinian delegation, Peres said.
Thirdly, he made clear that Palestinian representation must be by independent Palestinians prepared to accept Israel’s existence and to seek a peaceful solution to their conflict — not Palestine Liberation Organization delegates.
Peres reportedly told the French leaders, who themselves recently met with King Hussein of Jordan, that “Hussein is the key to peace” in the region and that Western Europe should use its influence to bring him to the negotiating table. Mitterrand and Chirac reportedly told Peres that Hussein was prepared to attend an international conference but also felt some preliminary points had to be settled.
NO CHANGE IN WEST BANK POLICY
Peres said that Israel’s policy in the administered territories has not changed since the rotation of power last October when Likud leader Shamir took over as Prime Minister. Israel still wants to improve the quality of life in the territories and ensure their economic development, with Jordan’s participation, Peres said.
He said Israel would welcome European investments in the West Bank. Its only condition is that the investments be funneled through Israeli or Jordanian government-controlled bodies and not go to independent organizations which might serve as a cover for the PLO.
Peres met with French Jewish leaders Saturday. He said he was optimistic about Israel’s future relations with the Peoples Republic of China but thought that much would depend on Moscow’s attitude toward Israel. He said China would probably formalize its ties to Israel if the Soviets moved in that direction.