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Shultz Says He Understands Hard-line Mideast Peace Positions

February 18, 1988
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli Premier Yitzhak Shamir and Arab leaders appear to be staking out hard-line public stands on peace proposals before Secretary of State George Shultz arrives in the Middle East next Tuesday or Wednesday.

But Shultz indicated Tuesday that this development is to be expected and stressed that the United States is not trying to press any specific plan on the parties involved.

“We’re trying to develop some ideas,” he said at a press conference following closed-door talks with the AFL-CIO Executive Council in Bal Harbour, Fla.

“We have called it a new blend of ideas that will, we hope, help, bring about the kind of negotiations that are necessary if we’re going to get anywhere: namely, the negotiations between Israel and respective neighbors,” he said.

Shultz refused to be specific about the proposals he will take to the Middle East, stressing that “from my standpoint as a mediator and negotiator, I think I want to do my negotiations directly with the parties.”

However, Shultz’s proposals became public following visits to the Mideast to lay the ground-work for his trip by special envoy Philip Habib and Richard Murphy, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs.

They call for talks on limited autonomy for the Palestinians on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with local elections held by the fall and negotiations on the final status of the territories to begin by the end of the year. The negotiations would be based on President Reagan’s 1982 initiative, which proposed that Israel give up most of the territory in return for peace.

Shamir has announced that Israel would never accept the formula of “territory-for-peace,” although this position is accepted by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Shamir said negotiations must be based on the Camp Damp David formula for autonomy talks.

Ehud Olmert, a Likud Knesset member, stressed the Shamir position in talks here Sunday with Charles Hill, Shultz’s executive assistant.

Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Tuesday that the Camp David formula “is a thing of the past whose time has ended.” He made his comment after a visit to Persian Gulf states, and it is apparently the official Arab position.

Instead, Mubarak called for an immediate international conference, which has been sought by Jordan. Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization have also rejected autonomy talks, stressing opposition to what they have called any “partial solution.”

Although Mubarak pledged support of the Camp David accords after he succeeded the assassinated Anwar Sadat, one of its signatories, the current president has refused to resume autonomy talks and has constantly supported Jordan’s demand for an international conference.

Shultz said Tuesday that Shamir’s position was “not surprising.” He said there has been so much talk about the process of negotiations it has “become somewhat sterile.” He added that “the parties are hanging back because they’re concerned about what, at least in broad outlines, the substance to be discussed might be.”


He said what is needed now is “to talk a little bit more about the substance. . . in terms of things that could be done relatively quickly that could make a positive change in conditions of life on the West Bank and Gaza, things that would be talked about when people address ultimate resolutions of the Arab-Israel conflict, and ways in which we could allow everybody to see that the things they’re interested in talking a bout are going to get up and on the table relatively quickly.”

At his Florida press conference, Shultz also denounced the plans by the PLO to send a boatload of deported Palestinians back to Israel. He said the United States would not allow a parallel situation to happen in New York harbor.

He said there is an “established procedure” which every country has if someone wants to enter, requiring visas and passports, along with the right each country has of refusing entry.

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