TUNIS — THE Palestine Liberation Organization gave its blessing yesterday to Palestinian participation in multilateral Middle East peace talks to begin today.
At the meeting of its central council, delegates also backed further bilateral peace talks with Israel, despite a call from hard-liners to halt the process.
Israel, however, said Saturday it was sticking to its decision to boycott two of five sets of multilateral talks despite a last-minute plea from US Secretary of State James Baker III. The multilateral talks, which cover refugees, economic development, water rights, disarmament, and the environment, are to reinforce the bilateral peace talks which began in Madrid last year.
Israel Television said the Jewish state would boycott the refugee and economic sessions despite Mr. Baker's request that it put aside objections to the inclusion of Palestinian exiles at those two sessions.
Baker told a delegation of American Jews earlier this week that the United States would even block discussion of the Palestinian "right of return" at the Ottawa refugee session.
But Israel insists on what it calls the Madrid formula for the Palestinians. Only Palestinians from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip are represented in direct talks with Israel.