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Report: Israel Seeking Harder U.S. Guarantees Against PLO Role

August 18, 1991

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel plans to ask the United States for stiffer guarantees that the PLO will be kept away from a proposed Middle East peace conference, state television reported Sunday.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has insisted on progress on the dispute over Palestinian representation before meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

But on Sunday, an Israeli official reported that Mubarak invited Shamir to visit Egypt ″at any time″ for a summit. It was the first report of an invitation to an Israeli prime minister to visit Egypt in five years.

The television report said Israel will ask to be exempt from its commitment to participate in an Arab-Israeli peace conference scheduled for October if any Arab participants declare ″identification″ with the PLO.

The report quoted a draft of an agreement being secretly negotiated with the United States that spells out Israel’s conditions for participating in the conference.

Israel gave conditional approval to the meeting arrangements when U.S. Secretary of State James A. Baker III visited earlier this month, but left many details for further negotiation.

Palestinian representation is the biggest obstacle. Israel says no Palestinians with ties to the PLO, from outside the occupied territories or from East Jerusalem can attend.

Left-wing legislator Yossi Sarid has said, ″The Israeli government will have to invent Palestinians to speak with, because there are simply none that can fit their bill.″

According to the TV report, the draft asks that Washington agree that Israel would not have to withdraw to pre-1967 Middle East War borders, which exclude the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights.

The United States does not recognize Israeli rule in these areas.

East Jerusalem and the West Bank were captured from Jordan. The Golan was taken from Syria, whileGaza, where 1.7 million Palestinians live, was taken from Egypt.

Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979 but ties have been chilly.

Gil Samsonov, spokesman for Shamir’s right-wing Likud bloc, said Egypt’s Deputy Prime Minister Youssef Wali conveyed the invitation for the Israeli prime minister during a meeting Sunday in Cairo.

It was not clear whether any specific date or other details of a summit were discussed in the meeting between Samsonov and Wali.

In another development, Israel’s attorney general was reported examining whether Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini should be arrested for meeting in London with Palestinian officials suspected of having PLO connections.

Husseini and Hanan Ashraw discussed peace moves with Palestinian figures in London.

Right-wing Cabinet ministers said they were violating a 1986 amendment barring contact with the outlawed PLO and demanded they be arrested when they return.

Husseini has met frequently with Baker regarding the planned peace conference and has been a key Palestinian negotiator. However, because he is from East Jerusalem, he is unnacceptable to the Isrealis as a Palestinian representative to the conference.

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