An outbreak of violence in East Jerusalem Monday forced Secretary of State James Baker to cancel a planned visit to the predominantly Arab but Israeli-controlled sector of the city. Baker called the slayings of four Jewish women "an effort to kill peace."
Baker flew to Tel Aviv from Cairo, Egypt, where he met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and said he will not ask Arabs to make gestures for peace until he knows how far Israel is prepared to go in matching them.He then traveled to Jerusalem, where his call for unspecified concessions by Israel already is causing problems.
In canceling his visit to East Jerusalem as part of a 10-day tour of the Middle East, Baker denounced Sunday's fatal stabbing of the four Israeli women in mostly Jewish West Jerusalem as "tragic and appalling acts."
The alleged assailant, an Arab from occupied Gaza, said he was delivering "a message for Baker" with Sunday's stabbings. Israeli police wounded and captured him. After the attack, angry Israelis shouted, "Baker go home!" and anti-Arab slogans.
Baker said the slayings were "an effort to kill peace." He pledged to "work just as hard as we can to see if we can provide a peace between Arabs and Israelis."
Baker's spokeswoman, Margaret D. Tutwiler, said he would follow through with plans to meet Tuesday with a group of Palestinian Arabs at the home of the U.S. consul-general in West Jerusalem.
Arab participants in the meeting are listed only by occupation. U.S. officials maintained they do not know whether delegation members have ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization.After a two-hour session with Mubarak, Baker told reporters his meeting with the Palestinians would not constitute resumption of a dialogue with the PLO.
"The individuals that I understand we will be meeting with are people that have met before with representatives of the U.S. government and Israel," Baker said.
The United States suspended talks with the PLO last June, saying factions had engaged in terrorist acts against Israel despite a pledge by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat to abandon such tactics.
On the eve of Baker's arrival, the Israeli Cabinet reinforced its opposition to U.S.- and Arab-backed U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for withdrawal from territories seized in the 1967 Six-Day War. In exchange for that withdrawal, Israel would receive guarantees of security from its Arab neighbors.
The concept of land for peace is key to deciding the Palestinian question and to broadening Arab-Israeli dialogue. Israel insists the West Bank is important to its security and has offered only limited self-rule to Palestinians.
Even the status of that proposal is unclear, however, following a war that saw Palestinians cheer Iraqi Scud missile attacks on Israel. Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir has refused to deal with Palestinians linked to the PLO and in recent weeks seemed less eager than usual for talks with a Palestinian population he sees as politically weakened by the war.
Yosef Ben-Aharon, a close adviser to Shamir, said Sunday that "if the Arabs come and tell us that territory is the primary objective of negotiations it is a sign they are not really aiming for peace."
However, he added, "If they tell us they finally decided to recognize Israel's existence and deal with us, then we can place on the negotiating table any issue they want."
Also Monday, Israeli troops killed six armed Arab infiltrators on the Jordan River. The military command said three Israeli soldiers were wounded in the pre-dawn firefight. It said the Arabs slipped into northern Israel, 45 miles north of Jerusalem, armed with assault rifles, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenades and dynamite.
A military source said they carried editions of the Muslim holy book, the Koran, bearing the emblem of Hamas (Zeal), a Muslim fundamentalist movement.
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