UN Secretary-General Perez de Cuellar has embarked on a major effort aimed at filling the diplomatic vacuum that will exist in the Middle East after Israel's scheduled withdrawal from the Sinai April 25.
Since problems in Palestinian communities will not be completely resolved by then and no machinery will be in place for consultations, a potentially explosive situation will exist, writes Monitor correspondent Louis Wiznitzer.
So Mr. Perez de Cuellar is consulting with Security Council members and representatives from Mideast countries, hoping to set up a UN forum where Israelis, Arabs, and permanent members of the Council can pursue diplomatic efforts within an institutionalized but flexible mechanism.
''Tensions in the Middle East are running very high and the whole area could be set aflame in a minute,'' Mr. Perez de Cuellar told the Monitor.
In an interview in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, former President Jimmy Carter said he may take a non-governmental role in the second phase of the Middle East peace process after the Sinai withdrawal.