Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir announced on Wednesday a two-stage peace plan that involves Israeli withdrawal from population centers in occupied territories during a period of Palestinian self-rule.
"At a certain stage when autonomy will be established, the army will leave some urban centers and will concentrate in certain places," he told reporters.The hardline premier said talks on the future status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip would take place five years after Palestinian self-rule but did not rule out handing back some of the Israeli-occupied territorie.
Shamir vowed in the past never to give up any part of the occupied territories he claimed as a Jewish biblical birthright and necessary for Israeli security.
When asked if he would accept territorial concession, Shamir told reporters at a Jerusalem hotel:
"Nobody is entitled now to speak about the outcome of negotiations."
Shamir said Israel would negotiate sovereignty over the territories with local Palestinians and Arab states, but again he ruled out talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
A 13-month-old Palestinian revolt in the territories and diplomatic gains by the PLO have pressured Israel to come up with its own peace initiative.
Plans to appoint former Soviet human rights activist Natan Sharansky as Israel's ambassador to the United Nations met with considerable opposition Wednesday. The fear is that the choice could insult Moscow just as Israel is trying to rebuild ties with the Soviets. But news reports indicated it was likely he would win Cabinet approval. Sharansky said Tuesday he had not been officially offered the job. Wednesday, he indicated he would consider the offer seriously.