Premier Yitzhak Shamir intends to sidestep the subject of an international conference on Middle East peace when Secretary of State George Shultz comes to Israel later this month.
He will concentrate instead on interim arrangements with Jordan. In fact, Shamir will be seeking Jordanian support to scuttle an international conference according to media reports here Monday.
Shultz is scheduled to arrive on Oct. 15, a day earlier than originally announced, in order to meet with moderate Palestinain leaders from the administered territories, it was reported Sunday. A senior State Department official indicated that Shultz’s visit is intended chiefly to conciliate the moderate Arab states and that he does not intend to raise broader expectations with respect to his visit, Haaretz reported Monday, quoting a report from the Israel Embassy in Washington.
Shultz’s planned visit to Jordan, meanwhile, has been called into question because King Hussein will be out of the country at the time. Haaretz said it was possible the Secretary of State would go to Jordan briefly during his stay in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Zaid al-Rifai, and then return to Israel.
Al Hamishmar reported Monday that Shamir met Sunday with a group of pro-Jordanian Palestinians in the West Bank to solicit their support to counter a possible agreement between the U.S., and the Soviet Union to re-form the join Jordanian-Palestinian delegation in preparation for an international conference.
SHAMIR SIGNALLING TO HUSSEIN
Shamir, said Al Hamishmar, was signalling Hussein to join him to block such a move and to increase Israeli-Jordanian cooperation in the territories against the Palestine Liberation Organization. Stronger cooperation between the two countries would, in Shamir’s view, serve to deter an international conference with Soviet participation. His call to Hussein for a face-to-face meeting is intended to institutionlize Israeli-Jordanian
Shamir wants to encourage the Jordanian ruler to rebuff any proposals Shultz may make regarding the reconstitution of a Jordanian-Palestinian delegation for peace talks, Al Hamishmar reported.
Officials here were quoted Sunday as saying Shultz will listen to Shamir’s ideas on the subject of an international conference but will tell him that the only path that appears at this stage to have a chance is to check out the possibility of convening one.
State Department officials have cautioned Israel not to expect too much from Shultz’s visit. They dismissed the notion that Shultz would offer new ideas that would cause Shamir to reverse his position. In short, they implied the Secretary of State is not about to pressure Shamir on an issue over which the Israeli government is sharply divided.
The upshot is an intensification of the Shamir-Peres dispute. The two disagree, for example, over who is a “moderate” Palestinian. Peres maintains that the moderates are pro-Jordanians and the more pragmatic PLO supporters. In Shamir’s view, only the pro-Jordanian Palestinians can be considered moderates and he refuses to accept PLO supporters as negotiating partners.
Shamir also aims to thwart the possible resumption of the Jordanian-Palestinian dialogue and thereby scuttle an international conference for good, Al Hamishmar reported.
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