Shamir and Levy End Their Quarrel, While Netanyahu Gets New Assignment

While the peace process has barely begun between Israel and its Arab foes, peace has been achieved quickly at the top levels of the Israeli government.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Foreign Minister David Levy have ended their quarrel after a private “peace talk” Wednesday.

The Likud leader made amends to the foreign minister he left behind on the eve of the Madrid conference opening, humiliating him in the process by taking along an aggressive young rival, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now Netanyahu has been transferred from his post as deputy foreign minister to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Levy cannot help but be relieved, since he had no working relationship with Netanyahu, and they were not even on speaking terms.

Yet when it comes to input and influence on Israeli foreign policy, Netanyahu, in his new post close to Shamir, may well overshadow Levy.

Shamir, who announced at the last minute that he, not Levy, would head the Israeli delegation to Madrid, has made a further concession. The Foreign Ministry, which played second fiddle in Madrid to the prime minister’s personal advisers, now has been given command of two key committees dealing with the peace process.

One is in charge of the bilateral talks with Lebanon, and the other will deal with the multilateral meetings on regional issues, in which Israel and the various Arab states are supposed to take part.

By assigning the Lebanon bilaterals to the Foreign Ministry, Shamir squeezed out a seasoned diplomat, considered eminently suited to the task.

Uri Lubrani, who was originally supposed to head the negotiations with Lebanon, has been the government’s coordinator in southern Lebanon and is considered a leading authority on that country.

Levy admitted candidly to a television interviewer Wednesday that his absence from Madrid did not harm the peace process but himself.

But he said he had no choice. “It was not a manner of honor but rather of proper governance,” he said.

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