JERUSALEM (May. 10)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Sunday he would present the Inner Cabinet with his own peace plan, based on direct talks with Jordan and on the Camp David Accords. In a television interview on the eve of the fateful Inner Cabinet debate on an international conference for Middle East peace, Shamir said his plan would also contain “places, times and procedures — that is, matters of tactics.” But he would reveal these only to the Inner Cabinet itself.
The 10-member Inner Cabinet is to meet Monday morning to begin what is likely to be a long discussion of Foreign Minister Shimon Peres’ proposal that Israel agree to an international conference — on certain conditions. Peres has pledged that if the Cabinet balks at his plan, he will urge Shamir to agree to dissolve the Knesset and hold new elections.
Shamir in his interview said that he objected to Peres’ proposals and that they were unrealistic. His own proposal, on the other hand, accorded with the original coalition agreement of the unity government, and he urged that the government stay in power and act according to its original platform. To force elections now would be “irresponsible,” Shamir added. He did not rule out an effort by Likud to set up a narrow-based government if Labor left the unity coalition.
SHAMIR’S TOP AIDE FLIES TO WASHINGTON
Earlier Sunday, Shamir’s top aide, Yossef Ben-Aharon, Director-General of the Prime Minister’s Office, flew to Washington to brief Secretary of State George Shultz and other key Administration figures on Shamir’s plan and on the Premier’s and Likud leader’s objections to Peres’ proposals.
Peres’ bureau stated Sunday that this high official’s mission was arranged without the Foreign Minister’s prior knowledge or consent.
Political observers said Ben-Aharon’s purpose in meeting with U.S. Administration officials, the Congress and the media, would be above all to counter the Likud’s negative and anti-peace image.
In his interview, Shamir cast doubt on Peres’ scenario of an “international opening” to be followed at once by substantive bilateral negotiations between Israel and each of the Arab parties in regional working groups. He said Peres was “the only one using this term ‘international opening,” and that “we know the Russians demand a real conference — not merely a ceremonial start.”
Regarding Peres’ assertion that the U.S. was committed to leave the conference, along with Israel, if other parties contravened the agreed-upon ground rules, Shamir said this too was unrealistic.
“One does not enter into such a serious thing as a conference in order to leave it,” he said. Israel would stay, even if the course of events at the conference did not go according to its liking. “Therefore we ought not to rely on the memorandum of understanding between Peres and Shultz or on similar things,” the Premier said.
He rejected the view that Likud was confronted with the option of “peace or territories” and said that if real negotiations got under way he would have “offers to make to King Hussein . . . not necessarily territorial . . . One must use one’s imagination.”
REFUSES TO WITHDRAW ACCUSATION AGAINST PERES
The Premier did not withdraw an accusation attributed to him in the media here that Peres is ready to negotiate with the PLO. He said he could not disclose the factual grounds for this charge. But he conceded that one piece of evidence was the weekend statement of the Maltese Prime Minister that Peres’ aide, Avraham Tamir, had sent messages, through him, to PLO chief Yasir Arafat and to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.
Tamir and Peres’ spokesman, Uri Savir, Sunday both denied this. Shamir said he did not believe “one hundred percent” either the original statement by the Maltese leader or the denial . . .”
Peres, meanwhile, has cancelled a visit to Argentina and other South American countries scheduled for next week.
He intends to fly to the U.S. for a brief visit this week where he will meet with the Secretary of State. But he plans to be home by the weekend in order to continue his fight for the conference proposal.