WASHINGTON -- In an effort to persuade the Palestinians to resume the Middle East peace talks, the Clinton administration has suggested to Israel that it accept a prominent Palestinian leader from East Jerusalem as head of the Palestinian delegation, U.S. officials said yesterday.
But a senior administration official said that the proposal, as well as others currently under discussion, would be carried out only if the Palestinians agreed in advance and in public to attend the talks, which are scheduled to resume in Washington on April 20.
The request is seen as a way to offer the Palestinians an incentive that is not related to the issue of the 400 Palestinians from the occupied territories who were deported by Israel to Lebanon last December.
The new approach also illustrates that the Clinton administration is so determined to get the talks on track again that it has proposed to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin that he make a serious new gesture to the Palestinians in advance of the talks.
President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is expected to raise the request with Mr. Rabin next week.
The Palestinian leader in East Jerusalem, Faisal al-Husseini, currently guides the delegation in consultation with the Palestine Liberation Organization in Tunis, but is excluded from the negotiating team under terms demanded by Israel as its price for joining the talks in 1991. Israel refused to allow members of the PLO or Palestinians from East Jerusalem to be part of the actual team.