JERUSALEM (Sep. 20)
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir made clear Wednesday that he is categorically opposed to the 10- point plan advanced by President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt for holding elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
On the same day, Mubarak appealed to Israelis to respond favorably to his proposals.
Shamir, addressing an audience of jurists, urged Egypt and other Arab states to persuade Palestinian residents of the territories to accept the original Israeli peace plan, without the Egyptian modifications.
He contended that lack of Arab support is part of the reason why the Palestinians have not responded favorably to the Israeli initiative until now.
The Egyptian paper has become the focus of a new crisis between Shamir’s Likud bloc and the Labor Party that threatens to bring down the unity coalition government. While both parties seemed to step back from the brink on Wednesday, analysts said a breakup of the government was still a strong possibility.
Labor apparently is willing to accept the Egyptian proposals, at least as a starting point for negotiations about Palestinian elections in the territories.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin discussed them with Mubarak during his one-day visit to Cairo on Monday.
But the Egyptian proposals have been rejected by the Likud. Shamir contended that the plan is fraught with danger for Israel.
REJECTS INCLUDING DEPORTEES
He absolutely rejected Mubarak’s idea of including Palestinians deported from the administered territories in a delegation that would negotiate with Israel on the terms of the proposed elections.
He objected not only because they would represent the Palestine Liberation Organization, but because Israel will never agree to their “right of return.”
But Mubarak told Israeli correspondents in Cairo on Wednesday that it is not possible to form a Palestinian negotiating team without the participation of Palestinians from outside the administered territories.
He suggested that Israel agree to include “two or three” of the deportees. The rest of the delegation would then be agreed to at a single meeting, he said.
Shamir also said he could never accept the “land for peace” formula urged by Mubarak, because that would mean “the establishment of an Arab Palestinian state in the areas of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.”
According to Shamir, the parties must stick to the original Israeli initiative endorsed by the Knesset on May 14. It calls for Palestinians to elect representatives from the territories with whom Israel would negotiate.
Addressing himself to the West Bank and Gaza residents, Shamir said he had no interest in perpetuating their suffering from violence.
He said that for the benefit of their own welfare, future and peace, it is time for dialogue and coexistence.
Meanwhile, the possibility of the government’s downfall, which sent the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange plummeting Monday, remained strong Wednesday. But the crisis atmosphere has abated somewhat.
Israelis, after all, are used to periodic eruptions in a government composed of ideologically irreconcilable partners. But their confidence in stability has been bolstered by the knowledge that clinging to office is the first order of business for politicians of every stripe.