JERUSALEM (Dec. 17)
Cabinet Secretary Elyakim Rubinstein flew Sunday to Washington, for meetings officials here deemed would be crucial to the proposed Israeli-Palestinian dialogue in Cairo.
According to knowledgeable sources, Rubinstein, who is close to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, will be testing the waters surrounding U.S. Secretary of State James Baker’s five-point proposal for the dialogue, which both Israel and Egypt have accepted, contingent upon certain “assumptions.”
If he is satisfied Israel’s interests are served, Foreign Minister Moshe Arens will probably go to Washington next month for talks with Baker and Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid to make arrangements for the dialogue.
But if Rubinstein returns dissatisfied, there will be a strong move within Shamir’s Likud bloc to call a halt to the diplomatic process before that tripartite session can take place, political observers said.
The Cabinet secretary will examine with ranking State Department officials the tenability of Israel’s “assumptions,” which it linked to its acceptance of Baker’s proposals, and their compatibility with the assurances believed to have been given by the United States to Egypt — and by way of Cairo, to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Israel has not been shown a text of Washington’s assurances to Egypt and is wary that this document may contain express or implied concessions or references to the PLO.
One focus of Rubinstein’s talks is expected to be the composition of the Palestinian delegation to the proposed Cairo dialogue.
The Prime Minister’s Office denied reports over the weekend that Shamir and Arens were ready to include certain Palestinians deported from the administered territories who would be readmitted and have their resident status restored.