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Shamir Expected to Reject Essence of Baker Plan in a Reply to Bush

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir is expected to reject the substance of U.S. proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian peace dialogue, in a letter to President Bush currently being drafted by his aides.

The letter will be in response to a request Shamir received earlier this month from Bush that the Israeli prime minister spell out his views on how the peace process should proceed.

Government circles predicted over the weekend that while Shamir would not explicitly rule out Secretary of State James Baker’s formula for an Israel-Palestinian dialogue, the implication of the Israeli reply will, in fact, be a negation of Baker’s proposal.

Baker’s plan calls for talks in Cairo between Israelis and a Palestinian delegation that would include Palestinians deported from the territories and those with addresses in East Jerusalem.

The Cairo dialogue was intended to work out modalities for elections in the administered territories, proposed by Shamir in his May 1989 peace initiative. The elected representatives would negotiate with Israel on Palestinian self-rule and eventually the final status of the territories.

Shamir’s aides are known to be working on the letter in close contact with Foreign Minister David Levy, who remained hospitalized in Afula after suffering a heart attack last week.

The reply was not discussed at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, but informed sources said it would be sent within days.

The sources said Shamir would congratulate Bush on his decision to suspend the U.S. dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

The Israeli letter would also focus on a possible dialogue with “indigenous” Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, instead of the proposed Cairo dialogue, which is anathema to some of Shamir’s coalition partners.

The sources said Shamir’s letter to Bush would affirm his ongoing commitment to his original peace plan of May 1989. But it would stress that the plan contains other, largely ignored elements besides the Palestinian elections, including an end of the general state of war between Israel and the Arab states.

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