BRUSSELS (May. 18)
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens, presently in Washington, is due here Monday to try to convince the foreign ministers of the 12 European Community nations that Israel’s plan for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip deserves their support.
Arens presented his arguments in some detail in an interview with the Belgian daily La Libre Belgique, published Thursday.
His ideas are already familiar, as is his total rejection of any role for the Palestine Liberation Organization.
According to Spanish diplomatic sources here, the Israeli elections idea if it is a step toward a comprehensive solution of the Middle East conflict.
This seems to be in line with the American position.
The European Community, currently chaired by Spain, has consistently supported the idea of an international peace conference under U.N. auspices, in which all parties would participate, including the PLO.
But E.C. sources said nevertheless that “cautious diplomatic backing” could be given to Arens next week if Israel agrees to add two stipulations to its plan.
These are that Israel would allow international supervision of the elections and that it would permit Arab residents of East Jerusalem to vote and run in the elections.
According to one diplomat, the Europeans will ask for this “in order to present proposals links transitional and final status” negotiations.
Departing the State Department Thursday, Arens told reporters he was not “pushed at all” by Baker on how the election would be held and who would be eligible to vote.
The Bush administration reportedly has been asking Israel whether Arabs in East Jerusalem would be allowed to vote and whether Israel would accept international supervision for elections.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has ruled out both proposals.
“I don’t think we can be sidetracked at this time by this or that detail,” Arens said.
“The main thrust of the peace initiative is clear,” Arens told some 1,200 delegates and 400 college students attending the AIPAC conference.
“Some of its details will be defined as we go along, but we should not get bogged down over these details now. That can only serve those who would like to derail the initiative.”
AID FOR REFUGEES PROPOSED
Arens stressed Sunday, as he has throughout his visit to Washington, that the Israeli peace initiative does not just propose elections, but includes three other proposals.
They are the reaffirmation by the United States, Israel and Egypt of the 1978 Camp David Accords, peace negotiations with other Arab countries and a multinational effort to solve the problems of Palestinians in refugee camps.
He called for U.S. participation in a summit with Israel and Egypt to reaffirm their commitments under the Camp David accords. He indicated last week that the summit should be held before the final plans for the elections are worked out.
Boucher would not comment on this proposal or another by Israel that the United States take the lead in a $2 billion program to aid Palestinians living in refugee camps. The proposal was contained in a letter Arens brought with him from Shamir to President Bush.
“The major obstacle to the peace initiative is the PLO,” Arens said Sunday. He said the Palestine Liberation Organization seeks to frighten Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as Arab states, from negotiating with Israel.
“There is no other road to peace” than the Israeli proposal, Arens said. “International conferences and dialogues with terrorists are dead-end streets and prescriptions for an escalation in frustration, animosity and violence.”
He urged the members of AIPAC to explain the Israeli initiative to American leaders and “mobilize support for it throughout America. You can help move it from an initiative to a real movement toward peace,” he said.