JERUSALEM (Sep. 13)
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin poured cold water Wednesday on the 10-point paper offered by Egypt to advance Israel’s peace initiative.
The Egyptian plan is not on Israel’s national agenda, Rabin declared on Israel Radio. The only issue presently on the agenda is Israel’s peace initiative, he said, echoing the position taken by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
“No one proposes to deviate from the government’s peace initiative, neither have I heard a proposal to discuss the 10 points in any forum,” the defense minister said.
He spoke after taking part in what was described as secret consultations Wednesday with Shamir and Foreign Minister Moshe Arens of the Likud bloc, as well as Rabin’s Laborite colleague, Vice Premier Shimon Peres
The four, who are Israel’s top policymakers, are scheduled to meet again on Friday, before Peres departs for a visit to the United States.
They may have called the consultations to preserve Labor-Likud unity in the face of reports that the coalition partners are split over the Egyptian proposals and heading for a confrontation.
Peres, who heads the Labor Party and serves as finance minister, has spoken favorably of the Egyptian points. As recently as last Sunday he was quoted as saying they were close to Israel’s own ideas.
But in a television interview Wednesday, Peres insisted that he and Rabin were of the same mind.
Rabin, for his part, played down importance of the Egyptian ideas, as well as indications that the Egyptian proposals have sparked interest in Washington.
“The 10-point plan was not offered to us by Egypt, and to the best of my knowledge neither did the United States approach us on the issue,” Rabin said.
No one in the government has suggested that “some other policy” be substituted for the Israeli peace plan, he added.
According to Rabin, the one and only issue at this time is whether Israel will find negotiating partners among the Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Israeli peace initiative, first offered by Shamir on May 14, calls for Palestinian elections in the territories.
The voters would select representatives with whom Israel would negotiate on Palestinian self-rule and eventually the territories’ future status.
Shamir has doggedly avoided discussing details of the plan, insisting that they would be the subject of negotiations.
The 10-point Egyptian proposal, on the other hand, is very specific about the conditions for the elections and says they should embrace the principle of “land for peace.”