JERUSALEM (May. 21)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, bound for Britain on a diplomatic offensive to sell Israel’s new peace plan, is not worried that his own underground past will catch up with him.
Speaking on Israel Radio hours before his departure for London, Shamir said he was “proud” to have been leader of the Lehi, the pre-state underground movement that fought the British in Palestine.
Also known as the Stern Gang, it was considered by many to be a terrorist organization.
Shamir noted that he had made official visits to Britain before, as foreign minister, and neither he nor his hosts had been troubled by his past record.
But the British news media and some public officials persist in raising the matter.
Most recently, the minister of state at the Foreign Office, William Waldegrave, compared the Israeli prime minister to Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat.
Waldegrave is the highest-ranking member of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s government to have met with Arafat. There have been hints in London, however, that the foreign secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe, plans a meeting with the PLO chairman.
Shamir, meanwhile, hopes to convince the British to support his initiative.
British officials briefing Israeli reporters on the trip seemed moderately encouraged. They welcomed the initiative “as far as it goes.”
From London, Shamir will fly to Madrid for the first-ever visit to Spain by an incumbent prime minister of Israel.