Mideast twist: Israeli recognition

Latest Middle East developments have put the spotlight on the Palestinians in general and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in particular, Monitor correspondent John Yemma reports.

Over the weekend Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Fahd called for Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders and establishment of a Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The most notable advance in this proposal -- which has been mooted many times before -- is implied Saudi and Moderate PLO recognition of Israel.

The Saudi plan was received coolly by the Israeli government. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir called it "dangerous" and "unacceptable." But Labor Party leader Shimon Peres saw light in the hint of recognizing Israel. The Saudi move followed Egyptian President Sadat's lobbying in Washington for the United States to being dealing directly with the PLO. This push by Mr. Sadat was prompted in part by pressure from domestic critics complaining of Egypt's continuing isolation and in part because of his desire to play a part in any historic breakthrough.

In recent weeks, Sadat has strengthened Egyptian ties with the PLO, sending doctors to Lebanon during fighting last month to aid moderate Palestinian leader Abu Iyad.

While the moderate Arabs, represented by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were making these propositions, Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin was taking office with a new government committed to eventual annexation of the West Bank and Gaza at the end of the five -year autonomy phase of Camp David (which has yet to begin)

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