JERUSALEM (Oct. 30)
Vice Premier Shimon Peres, the Labor Party leader, walked out of the Emek Hospital in Afula a well man Monday and promptly criticized his Likud coalition partners for insisting that U.S. Secretary of State James Baker alter his five-point plan for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Peres, who had been hospitalized for nearly two weeks with an acute infection of the urinary tract, told reporters he saw no need to ask Baker to change or amend his proposals.
“Israel has to accept Baker’s five points clearly,” Peres said, adding, “We have to stop scaring ourselves.”
He stressed that “only part of Israel” has demanded changes, meaning the Likud half of the government.
“In reality, Israel has not rejected the five points, nor has she accepted them, so actually anyone who expresses a view ‘in the name of Israel’ only expresses his own view,” Peres said.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister Moshe Arens of Likud have agreed in principle to Baker’s plan.
But they demand iron-clad guarantees that Israel will not have to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization and that the agenda of the talks be confined exclusively to the mechanics of Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Peres hinted that his coalition partners may be afraid to sit down with Palestinians. “If talks will be held with the Palestinians, they will arrive with their demands, and we will arrive with ours.
“But there is no reason in the world why we should have to accept their demands,” he said.
Peres, who was stricken two weeks ago while touring northern Israel, admitted he had been seriously ill. “The doctors had some difficult moments, and at times I saw that they were worried, more worried than I was,” he said.