Soviet Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Gerasimov said Saturday that Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's plan for Palestinian elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza was unworkable.

"It's a stillborn child, a stillborn idea," Gerasimov said on Britain's Channel Four television. "It cannot work because you cannot really solve the Palestinian problem without the PLO."His comments followed those of Jordanian officials and newspapers in several Arab countries Saturday that scorned the Israeli plan for Palestinians elections.

Some Middle East newspapers lambasted the United States for backing such a plan, unveiled by Shamir Thursday in talks with President Bush in Washington as a way to select a Palestinian delegation to negotiate an interim period of self-government in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Gerasimov, in Britain after a visit by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, said Jewish settlement of the occupied territories, site of a 16-month-old Palestinian uprising, was a timebomb.

Shamir rejects the Palestine Liberation Organization as a negotiating partner, saying the PLO is dedicated to Israel's destruction despite its recent recognition of Israel's right to exist and renouncement of terrorism.

But the Israeli leader said Friday for the first time that PLO sympathizers could participate in future peace talks.

Bush has endorsed Shamir's plan, saying it was up to both sides to decide whether the PLO should be involved in peace negotiations. PLO leader Yasser Arafat has rejected the plan.

In Amman, Jordanian Information Minister Hani al-Khasawneh told Reuters: "Holding elections in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip will not lead to true peace,"

Another senior official said "Jordan certainly rejects Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's plan because it bypasses the role of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)."

Abdul-Hamid al-Sayeh, speaker of the Palestinian parliament-in-exile, repeated the PLO's rejection of elections unless Israel ends its occupation.

Egypt's semi-official al-Ahram newspaper said Shamir's plan, announced Thursday in Washington after talks with President Bush, was "a renewed expression of real stagnation."

The plan is "proof of the Israeli leadership's inability to understand the reality of things and the implications of events," it said.