Peres Makes Clear His Differences with Shamir over USSR Participation in the Middle East Peace Proce
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Peres Makes Clear His Differences with Shamir over USSR Participation in the Middle East Peace Proce

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Premier Shimon Peres has made clear that his own position toward a possible future role of the Soviet Union in the Middle East peace process differs sharply from the totally negative position of Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir. But he flatly denied a press report that Israel has offered to withdraw from the Golan Heights if Moscow would restore diplomatic ties.

The matter was raised at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting by Yosef Shapira of the religious party, Morasha, on the basis of a report in Yediot Achronot that Peres had asked World Jewish Congress president Edgar Bronfman to convey the offer during his visit to the USSR last month. Peres said he made no such request of Bronfman nor did Bronfman take up such matters with Soviet officials.

Peres refused Shapira’s request that he meet with Golan settlers who are agitated over the report, because they pounced on it without bothering to ascertain whether it was true. According to Yediot Achronot, Bronfman and his aide, Israel Singer, brought to Moscow an Israeli proposal for a phased pullback from the Golan Heights and demilitarization of the area.

Bronfman was personally attacked by Shamir for visiting the Soviet Union in an effort to ease emigration restrictions for Jews. According to the Likud leader, he was interfering in matters best left to Israel.

Shamir said in Washington last Wednesday that he would oppose an international peace conference on the Middle East with Soviet participation even if the Soviets restored diplomatic relations with Israel. Such a conference is the framework King Hussein of Jordan insists is necessary for negotiations with Israel.


Peres was questioned by the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee last Thursday about Shamir’s remarks in Washington. In response, he reiterated that if the USSR reestablished diplomatic ties with Israel it would have a role to play in future peace negotiations. He noted that while Israel will continue to oppose Hussein’s proposal for a conference under the auspices of the five permanent members of the Security Council, other ideas could be examined.

If the Soviets resumed diplomatic ties they would certainly be able to play a role “and we could then discuss what precisely that role could be,” Peres said. He recently sent a letter to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev urging a resumption of ties between the two countries regardless of their political differences.

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