JERUSALEM (Feb. 8)
Ariel Sharon accused Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of concealing concessions he allegedly has made with respect to the proposed Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Sharon, who is minister of industry and trade, leads a hard-line bloc of Likud ministers and Knesset members who oppose Shamir’s peace initiative.
Addressing the Press Club in Tel Aviv on Thursday, Sharon claimed Shamir has already consented to the inclusion of Palestinian deportees from the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the Palestinian delegation that would meet with Israelis in Cairo.
Sharon admitted he had no hard information to back that up, but rather a gut “feeling.”
He claimed Shamir engineered the postponement of a tripartite meeting of foreign ministers in Washington to discuss the impending dialogue until after the Likud Central Committee meets on Monday.
According to Sharon, the prime minister does not want the Central Committee to know about his concessions before it takes a crucial vote on his policies.
The Central Committee was to have met on Feb. 7. But the terrorist attack on an Israeli tour bus in Egypt on Sunday, which killed nine Israelis, caused it to be postponed.
Foreign Minister Moshe Arens is expected to meet in Washington next week with U.S. Secretary of State James Baker and Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid to work out details of the Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.
Sharon told the Press Club audience that the government’s resolve to exclude East Jerusalem Arabs from the dialogue was weakening but there has been no “consent” yet on that point.
The Labor Party half of the unity coalition government is prepared to allow the East Jerusalemites to participate in the dialogue and in the Palestinian elections which might follow.
Likud is opposed, but Sharon seemed to be suggesting that the Shamir-Arens wing of the party is less than firm on that issue.