JERUSALEM (Jul. 10)
Premier Yitzhak Shamir refused to confide to the Cabinet on Sunday the contents of a message he received from President Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania.
His silence on the matter raised speculation that the message was a proposal for peace talks from the Palestine Liberation Organization.
It was conveyed privately to Shamir and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres on Friday by Ceausescu’s personal envoy, Konstantin Metea.
Responding to queries from other ministers Sunday, Shamir said he was not at liberty to divulge information because the Romanian president had asked that the message be treated discreetly.
Israeli sources said it was an offer for direct peace talks from the Palestine Liberation Organization, aimed at an autonomy-style interim arrangement in the administered territories.
The sources said both ministers rejected it, Shamir politely but emphatically.
Peres was reported to have said that Israel will talk to the inhabitants of the territories but would not negotiate with “terror organizations.”
The sources said that Ceausescu, having recently hosted PLO chief Yasir Arafat in Bucharest, wanted to assure Shamir and Peres that the PLO was ready for talks with Israel on interim arrangements before an international peace conference.
The PLO proposal was said to be similar to the document written last month by PLO spokesman Bassam Abu-Sharif suggesting direct negotiations with Israel. While Arafat has never publicly endorsed that document, after it gained worldwide attention he was quoted as saying that the United States “ought now to make a gesture toward the PLO.”