JERUSALEM (May. 3)
American guarantees are a vital element of a political diplomatic package Foreign Minister Shimon Peres plans to submit to the Inner Cabinet within the next 10 days, sources close to the Labor Party leader said Sunday.
They contain assurances Secretary of State George Shultz has given Peres that the U.S. would walk out of an international conference for Middle East peace if the terms of reference agreed to in advance were contravened by any of the participants, the sources said.
Peres, in an interview with the newspaper Hadashot published Sunday, stated flatly, “We have an understanding with King Hussein and the Americans to hold direct negotiations between Israel and Jordan under the auspices of an opening in the form of an international conference.”
He chided Likud for expressing doubts that bilateral talks could be held soon with Jordan under international auspices. But Premier Yitzhak Shamir, the Likud leader, voiced his strong skepticism in an interview published Sunday in Maariv.
Shamir and Peres are expected to meet privately on Tuesday to discuss their differences over the peace process. Informed sources said neither would attempt to persuade the other to his point of view but they would try to agree on when Peres will make his presentation to the Inner Cabinet which comprises five Labor and five Likud Ministers.
Peres has said repeatedly he wants no prolonged delays and he is considering making his brief to the Cabinet before he goes to the U.S. for a short visit later this month. He is also said to be weighing a postponement of a visit to Argentina and other South American countries at the end of May.
‘CHIEF OBSTACLE’ TO THE CONFERENCE
Peres said in his interview that the “chief obstacle” to the international conference scenario concerned Soviet participation. “If the USSR wants to take part in the process it must renew its diplomatic relations with Israel and change its policy vis-a-vis the Jews of the USSR,” Peres said. He added, “This is agreed to by Shultz and by European leaders.”
Peres said he believes Jordan is prepared to negotiate without the Palestine Liberation Organization and maintained that the PLO is more isolated than ever. “Morocco has severed its relations with the PLO, Egypt closed their offices, Jordan closed additional offices. Syria is against the PLO… I don’t see who wants the PLO in the negotiations today,” Peres said.
Shamir, in his interview, said that while Hussein is pressing for an international conference he has not stated publicly any willingness to negotiate directly with Israel. He also said it was “difficult to rely” on assurances of an American walk-out should conference ground rules be violated. “I know how hard it is to obtain a decision by a state in such cases once it decides explicitly on taking part in the process,” he said. Shamir insisted that his objections to an international conference were not motivated by fear that Israel would be forced to make territorial concession. “To this day we are faithful to the Camp David accords and we are ready for negotiations within their framework,” the Likud leader said. “At a conference we will be in confrontation with the entire world… We will not attain peace.”