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Bush and Other U.S. Officials Brief Israeli Leaders on Summit

December 6, 1989
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A ranking U.S. State Department official briefed Israeli leaders Tuesday on the Malta summit conference last weekend between President Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Arens, meanwhile, had an unexpected telephone conversation with President Bush on Monday.

The summit briefing was given by John Kelly, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, who left for similar meetings in Cairo in the afternoon.

He told the Israeli leadership that the Soviet Union believes the time has come to advance the peace process in the Middle East, and it would like to play an active role.

“I cannot speak for the Soviets, but certainly the general disposition of the Soviet government is far different these days than what it was 10 years ago,” Kelly said.

He noted, for example, that Gorbachev believes the parties to the conflict must find a solution rather than have one imposed on them.

Kelly reported that Bush had urged Gorbachev at Malta to re-establish full diplomatic relations with Israel.

The Soviet leader is said to have responded that a resumption of relations has been Moscow’s intention for some time, but that it must be accompanied by progress in the peace process.

Kelly arrived in Israel on Monday night, had an early breakfast meeting with Arens and then met separately with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, Vice Premier Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

Arens was in Shamir’s office Monday when the telephone rang. The caller was Secretary of State James Baker, phoning from the presidential plane. He asked to talk to Arens and told him that Bush had raised with Gorbachev the reestablishment of diplomatic ties with Israel.


President Bush got on the phone at that point and gave Arens his firsthand impressions of the summit.

Arens told the president, “The entire world looked upon you with hope in recent days, and our prayers are with you.”

Bush sent regards to Shamir, with whom he had met at the White House on Nov. 15.

During his meetings with Israeli leaders, Kelly referred to Baker’s five-point proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian dialogue on Palestinian elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

“We have the Israeli answer to the Baker plan of Nov. 5. We still lack a definitive Egyptian response, and I will be going to Egypt this afternoon and talking with them about that,” he told reporters.

Israel has warily accepted Baker’s proposals, contingent on assumptions that the United States will not pressure the Jewish state to negotiate with the Palestine Liberation Organization and that the dialogue will be limited to the mechanics of the proposed elections.

Israel also reserves the right not to talk to Palestinian delegation of which it disapproves.

Egypt, which has offered to host the dialogue, has yet to respond to Baker’s points. Observers attribute Cairo’s delay to its inability to convince the PLO to cooperate.

Kelly and Shamir reportedly discussed a meeting involving Baker and the Israeli and Egyptian foreign ministers, once Egypt responds to the five points.

Shamir reiterated that Israel will never negotiate directly or indirectly with the PLO. Kelly said the Israeli position was clear in Washington.

Shamir told Israel Television on Tuesday that the fate of the Middle East does not depend entirely on the superpowers, “even if they are among the friendliest of nations.”

The ultimate solution will be found “through an agreement between Israel and her neighbors,” Shamir said, adding: “One should not anticipate salvation from the great powers.”

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