JERUSALEM (Feb. 8)
The United States wants the Israel Defense Force to withdraw from the main population centers of the West Bank and Gaza Strip this spring, to be followed by Palestinian elections in early summer, informed sources said here Monday.
The sources confirmed in outline proposals that have been leaked from the highest American political echelons. They are expected to be presented to Israeli officials by Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, who is due in Israel on Tuesday.
Murphy, who has been the Reagan administration’s chief troubleshooter in the Middle East, is presently visiting Saudi Arabia. It has been reported that he also will visit Syria during his current mission to the region.
The American ideas on how to come to grips with unrest in the Israeli-administered territories emanated from the Persian Gulf region, apparently from Murphy’s entourage.
They also include Washington’s thinking on how to advance the peace process toward an overall political solution.
Under the plan, the IDF would withdraw from major cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the beginning of summer, at the latest. Soon after, Israel, Jordan and Egypt would jointly monitor local Palestinian elections in the territories.
Once the local elections have taken place, Secretary of State George Shultz would visit the region personally to set the stage for a new round of shuttle diplomacy.
After the general elections in the United States and Israel next November, Washington envisions convening an international forum in December to launch negotiations between Israel and Jordan, with Palestinian participation, to decide the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.