Israel and U.S. Pushing Italy to Endorse Shamir Election Plan

Israel is pressing the visiting leaders of Italy to give their backing to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir’s proposal for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

At a working session Monday with Italian Prime Minister Ciriaco de Mita and Foreign Minister Giulio Andreotti, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens urged Italy to encourage other European Community governments to back the Shamir plan.

Both Shamir and Arens are to meet with key European leaders during the weeks ahead. Shamir is invited to Britain and Spain, and Arens is to address the European Community Council of Ministers in Brussels on May 22.

The United States is also apparently trying to drum up European support for the Shamir plan. Israeli newspapers reported Monday that U.S. Secretary of State James Baker had sent a letter to his European Community counterparts asking them to support the Shamir proposal.

Israeli and Italian sources said de Mita and his delegation had not explicitly dismissed the election proposal. But they have not concealed their doubts, wondering aloud whether elections are an adequate response to the current unrest and opportunity for progress toward peace.

In remarks at an official dinner Sunday night, de Mita warned that “a possible and undesirable fading away of these openings would imply tragic consequences for all.”

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