Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's proposed peace visit to Israel, now tied to the Jewish state opening direct talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization, was met with resistance in Jerusalem and drew criticism Wednesday from a PLO official.
The added conditions to an offer Mubarak first made Saturday, and initially embraced by Israel, threatened to derail a proposed new Egyptian-Israeli peace dialogue because of Jerusalem's opposition to any recognition of the PLO."I believe that the preparations of such visits require strict attention, not spotlights or conditions," Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told the state-run Israel Radio in response to Mubarak's newest expressed position.
The clarification of Mubarak's original proposal was made Tuesday by Butros Ghali, Egypt's longtime minister of state for foreign affairs. Ghali held the same post when the late President Anwar Sadat made his breakthrough visit to Israel in 1977 and he accompanied him there. So did Mubarak.
Mubarak's initiative seemed intended to add life to the decades-old Arab-Israeli peace process following the U.S. decision Dec. 14 to open a dialogue with the PLO. Washington made the move after PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat agreed to explicity recognize Israel and renounce terrorism.
Israel opposes the dialogue and rejects the PLO as a negotiating partner, adhering to its years-old label of the group as a "terrorist organization."
Rather, Shamir said he favors peace talks with Mubarak on the basis of the U.S.-engineered 1978 Camp David accords, the foundation of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in March 1979 that calls for Palestinian self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
"Egypt, which repeatedly affirmed the importance of a dialogue and contact between the PLO and Israel, will continue its efforts toward that objective," Ghali told reporters. "With this objective in mind, President Mubarak is prepared to visit Israel if Israel agrees to a dialogue with the PLO."
Ghali's statement was intended as a clarification of remarks Mubarak made in an interview Saturday with the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Anbaa.