Israel Might As Well Talk to PLO Face to Face, Says Ezer Weizman

An Israeli Cabinet minister said here that his country is already engaged in “indirect negotiations” with the Palestine Liberation Organization and thinks they should be “face to face.”

Ezer Weizman, the minister of science and development, spoke to reporters Thursday afternoon before flying back to Israel.

He was here for four days at the invitation of the French minister for scientific affairs.

Weizman, an outspoken dove, said the visit to Cairo on Monday by his Labor Party colleague, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, gave new impetus to the peace process and should be fully supported.

Rabin and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak met on Sept. 18 to discuss Egypt’s 10-point paper proposing terms and conditions for Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Labor Party is prepared to consider the Egyptian points but their Likud coalition partners flatly reject them. The rift threatens a crisis that could topple the unity government.

Weizman did not seem particularly disturbed by that prospect.

“Our problem is with the Arabs, not with the Likud. We should try to reach a solution with the Arabs instead of trying to work out arrangements with Likud,” he said.

While it is Likud policy never to negotiate with the PLO under any circumstances, “we are engaged in indirect negotiations with the PLO through the Americans who meet with them in Tunis and through the Egyptians,” the Cabinet minister said.

“It would be far more honorable if we were to meet with our enemies face to face to reach a solution to our problems,” he declared.

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