Menu JTA Search

Egypt Signals Israel That It Supports PLO Participation in Future Mideast Peace Talks

Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid, unable to convince Premier Yitzhak Shamir to accept the idea of an international conference for Middle East peace, sent a strong signal on the last day of his visit to Israel that Egypt strongly backs Palestine Liberation Organization participation in any future peace talks.

Meguid, who arrived here Monday, met Wednesday with 12 prominent Palestinians, all but two of whom are known supporters of the PLO. The meeting took place at the home of the Egyptian Ambassador, Mohammad Basyouni in Herzliya. The guests included Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem and former Mayor Rashad A-Shawa of Gaza, both considered pro-Jordanian.

Meguid briefed the group on recent contacts between Egypt, Jordan and the PLO on convening an international conference. He described the meeting afterwards as “very good.” Other participants told reporters that Meguid did not ask them to pressure the PLO to accept Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which imply recognition of Israel. Egypt is on record as insisting that this be a condition for PLO participation in peace talks.

The Palestinians gave Meguid a memorandum in which they pledged their full support of the PLO as “the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” They also called for stronger ties between Egypt and the Palestinians.

According to observers here, Meguid’s meeting with the PLO supporters was a message to Israel that it cannot ignore the PLO in peace negotiations and that only the PLO can nominate Palestinian representatives to a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation in future peace talks with Israel.

MEGUID HAS SHARP EXCHANGE WITH SHAMIR

Meguid, the highest level Egyptian diplomat to visit Israel since its invasion of Lebanon in 1982, reportedly had a sharp exchange with Shamir over an international peace conference at their meeting Tuesday. The Premier said later, “Unfortunately, I have not been able to convince the Egyptian Foreign Minister, but neither did he succeed to convince me.”

At the meeting, Shamir quoted a letter the late Egyptian President Anwar Sadat wrote to former Israeli Premier Menachem Begin in which he said the Palestinian problem should be solved within the framework of the Camp David accords. “Today you completely ignore this,” Shamir told Meguid.

Meguid replied that conditions have changed and reverting to the Camp David accords would set the peace process back three years. Yediot Achronot reported Wednesday that “a third party” was attempting to arrange a meeting between Shamir and King Hussein of Jordan in the hope that it would soften Shamir’s opposition to an international conference.

Although no basic political changes emerged from Meguid’s visit, it had several results. Laborite Ministers Ezer Weizman and Moshe Shahal will visit Egypt in the next few weeks for a meeting with President Hosni Mubarak. Egypt will help expand contacts between Israel and the Soviet Union. Contacts on the Taba border dispute will continue.

Meguid also informed the Israelis that his government would set up a special tribunal to review the demands for financial compensation by the families of seven Israelis killed by a berserk Egyptian soldier at Ras Burka in Sinai in 1985.

NEXT STORY