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An Embarrassing Revelation: Likud and Pro-plo Figures in Contacts over West Bank Future

Disclosure this week that Likud Party figures had contacts with pro-PLO Palestinian nationalists over the future of the West Bank seems to have shaken Israelis and Palestinians alike, with different results.

While Moshe Amirav, the Likud Herut MK who confirmed meeting the Palestinians, got a tongue-lashing from a fellow Likud Knesset member, and Premier Yitzhak Shamir disavowed any knowledge of his actions, one of the Palestinians involved was badly beaten by masked youths, believed to be students at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank.

Likud is vociferous in demanding legal action against Israeli leftists and doves who defy the ban against contacts with Palestine Liberation Organization members. Likud contacts with PLO supporters were first disclosed by the small Jerusalem newspaper, Kol Ha’ir.

According to the report, Amirav, a senior Herut figure, held meetings with Dr. Sari Nusseibeh, a lecturer in philosophy at Bir Zeit, and Palestinian activist Feisal Husseini, presently under administrative detention for alleged anti-Israel activities. Nusseibeh also reportedly met with another Likud MK, Ehud Olmert.

Amirav told the newspaper Hadashot Monday that in the course of his meetings with the Palestinians they stated “that they not only recognize the State of Israel but are even prepared to go (along) with an autonomy settlement, the Likud’s plan.”

“I reported this to the Prime Minister as well as to other central Likud members,” Amirav said. Shamir declared Monday, “This surpasses all imagination. I had no knowledge of those meetings whatsoever.” He added that he hardly knows Amirav, a member of the Herut Central Committee.

Amirav maintained that while Likud may be “viewed by the public as dogmatic, various opinions are under consideration concerning the road to peace. Despite the fact that my plan has not been officially adopted by the Likud, it is known, and has been presented for discussion several times,” he told Hadashot.

According to Amirav, Nusseibeh and Husseini, the Palestinian activists, accepted the plan he said he explained to them for the West Bank. The territory would remain permanently under Israeli sovereignty. Jewish settlements would be maintained and even strengthened. Jerusalem would never be divided and Eretz Israel (Biblical Palestine) would never be partitioned.

“It is possible that now, in light of the leaks of the talks, my partners to the talks will be forced to make a denial. But I can attest to the fact that they agreed to it,” Amirav said.

Nusseibeh was beaten by three masked assailants as he left his classroom at Bir Zeit Monday. One hit him over the head with a club. He was rushed to Ramallah Government Hospital where his wounds were stitched, and he was sent home. He refused to comment on the attack but friends attribute it to his meetings with Amirav and Olmert.

Maariv Monday published a sharp rebuke of Amirav from Likud MK Dan Meridor. He said he had tried to dissuade Amirav from meeting the Palestinians. “I explained to him that this contradicts our entire platform.”

Meridor added that the outrage over this incident “first of all focuses on the meetings with a PLO member. Contacts with the PLO grant it legitimacy, especially with the Americans… What is shocking is that a Likud member sits with PLO members and gives the impression that he has come on behalf of the Prime Minister who allegedly even took the plan with him to Rumania,” Meridor said. Shamir visited Rumania last month.

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