Egyptian Arrives in Israel for Two-day Peace Mission

A senior Egyptian official arrived here Sunday on a two day peace mission. But his visit appeared to be more of a goodwill gesture than a substantive diplomatic initiative.

Dr. Butros Ghali, Egypt’s minister of state for foreign affairs, was greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens, who urged his guest to convince his government to support Israel’s new peace plan.

Ghali arrived with a message from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak apprising Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of the outcome of the recent Arab League summit meeting in Casablanca, Morocco, which rejected the Israeli peace initiative.

But the Egyptian president pointed out in the message that it was the first Arab summit meeting ever to endorse U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which implicitly recognize Israel’s right to exist behind secure borders.

Egypt has not rejected the Israeli peace plan outright. But at the same time, Egyptian leaders have said they will not act contrary to the stance advocated by the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Israeli leaders are concerned that the PLO is using its dialogue with the United States to raise obstacles to the peace plan.

At the third formal round of U.S.-PLO talks in Tunisia on June 8, the PLO asked the United States for a statement of principles recognizing the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, which would be tantamount to recognition of their right to an independent state.

To do so would mean a complete turnabout of American policy.

The PLO also reportedly proposed that Israel should negotiate the terms for Palestinian elections directly with a team of Palestinians form the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Ghali was to meet here with both prominent Palestinians and Israeli leaders, and it appeared that each side would ask the Egyptian diplomat to influence the other.

But his visit is something of a disappointment to officials here, who see it as Egypt’s response to repeated invitations for Mubarak to come to Israel for a summit meeting with Shamir. The Egyptian president has not responded to those calls. Not even the Egyptian foreign minister, Esmat Abdel Meguid, is prepared to visit Israel at this time.

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