Peres renews Israeli offer of Palestinian self-rule

June 29, 1993|By Los Angeles Times

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has renewed, in the most forthcoming terms yet, his country's offer to the Palestinians of virtual self-government on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip as soon as the basis for overall autonomy for the occupied territories is agreed.

As Mr. Peres outlined it yesterday, the Palestinians would take over the administration of the Gaza Strip almost immediately and assume control of most government operations on the West Bank once the two sides agreed on a declaration of principles.

"We are seriously interested in stopping our intervention in the lives of the Palestinians, and as soon as possible," Mr. Peres said, adding that Israel would also begin pulling back substantial numbers of its troops from the occupied territories, although it would remain responsible for overall security.

Although he declined to provide a timetable, Mr. Peres seemed to be speaking of a process that could begin within a few weeks and be fully under way within a month or two of the basic agreement -- the first-ever Palestinian government.

With discussions over the declaration dragging on in Washington after 20 months of meetings, Mr. Peres was trying with a display of increased Israeli flexibility to entice the Palestinians into an initial but fundamental agreement, which would in turn give the whole breadth of the Arab-Israeli talks new momentum.

But Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin also made clear yesterday that Israeli flexibility does not extend to the future of Jerusalem.

"Jerusalem will remain as it is, united, under Israeli sovereignty, and our capital forever," Mr. Rabin told visiting Jewish leaders.

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