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Arab Summit Keeps Low Profile on Arab-israeli Conflict

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The dangers posed by Iran and uneasiness over the growing Western naval presence in the Persian Gulf appear to have overshadowed the Arab-Israeli conflict at the three-day summit conference of Arab leaders in Amman, which ended Wednesday.

The Arab-Israeli issue was mentioned only at the end of the conference’s final statement. It was a word-for-word repetition of previous statements and resolutions that emerged from past Arab summit meetings — that the Palestinian question was at the heart of the Middle East conflict and peace was impossible without Israel’s complete withdrawal from all territories it captured in the 1967 war, including East Jerusalem.

The statement was unaccompanied by the usual impassioned rhetoric. According to observers, in fact, the latest Arab summit seems to have shifted the balance of power in the Arab world from the die-hards to the pragmatists. Reconciliation within the Arab camp also seems to have carried the day.

Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat was quoted by Haaretz’s Arab affairs correspondent as saying in Amman Tuesday that he had reached an agreement with King Hussein of Jordan to resume the Jordanian-PLO dialogue. It was broken off by Hussein in January 1986 after a year of fruitless search for a formula for joint Jordanian-Palestinian negotiations with Israel.

Hussein charged at the time that the PLO leadership had proven unreliable. According to the Haaretz report Wednesday, agreement to resume their efforts was reached at a reconciliation luncheon given by Hussein after Arafat boycotted an earlier dinner Hussein held for the summit participants.

There was no immediate confirmation from Hussein.

Haaretz also reported that Richard Murphy, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, informed Moshe Katzav, currently visiting Washington, that Hussein is ready for territorial compromise with Israel and would not insist on the return of the entire West Bank. Katzav, a member of the Herut wing of the Likud bloc, is minister of labor and social affairs.

The Haaretz Washington correspondent reported Wednesday that the Reagan administration will soon transfer $42 million to Jordan for projects and social programs in the territories administered by Israel.

Katzav reportedly told the correspondent that he was assured by Murphy that aid to residents of the territories would not be decreased despite anticipated cuts in the U.S. federal budget.

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