BRUSSELS (Apr. 23)
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir is expected to meet three European Community foreign ministers late next month in Madrid to discuss ways to advance the Middle East peace process, according to diplomatic sources here.
Shamir’s prospective encounter with the foreign ministers of Spain, Greece and France will give the European Community an opportunity to revive the diplomatic initiative in the Middle East it launched earlier this year.
The so-called troika of current, past and future European Community chairmen visited major Middle East capitals in January and met in February with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat.
But the European Community has taken no new actions since the Bush administration held a round of meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan’s King Hussein.
According to diplomatic sources, Shamir is eager to present the European Community with his recently outlined proposals for Palestinian elections in the administered territories.
“Israel hopes that the European Community will agree, or at least remain neutral, with the American administration’s view that the elections idea is a first step toward an overall agreement, despite the fact that the Palestine Liberation Organization has already rejected Shamir’s offer,” an analyst said.
Italian sources hinted last week, following an informal meeting of the 12 E.C. foreign ministers in Granada, Spain, that the community might propose that the United Nations form a special force, made up of European troops, to supervise elections in the territories or a partial Israeli withdrawal from those areas.
Such a proposal would require approval from the E.C. heads of government, who will join in Madrid in June for their semiannual summit meeting.
The sources also did not rule out the possibility of a meeting between Arafat and the European Community “at the highest level.”
During his visit to Madrid, which is expected to take place on May 23, the Israeli prime minister will be accompanied by Foreign Minister Moshe Arens, who will be here a day early to attend the annual meeting of the E.C.-Israel Cooperation Council, with the 12 European Community foreign ministers.