Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir has indirectly confirmed that Israel is holding direct talks with the Palestine Liberation Organization on the fate of eight Israeli prisoners in PLO hands.
Mr. Shamir told a parliamentary committee that Israel is taking steps toward this end that it has rejected in other circumstances on political grounds. Israel has refused to negotiate with the PLO, as the spokesman for all Palestinians, over the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip where 1.3 million Palestinians live.
This development comes against the background of Israeli refusal to consider any partial withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon until it gets back Israeli prisoners held by the PLO and Syria. Israel holds several thousand Palestinian prisoners in a camp in south Lebanon, as well as Syrian POWs - and reportedly holds more Palestinians in Israel.
Reports in the Austrian, French, and Israeli press have stated that Arieh (Lova) Eliav, former secretary general of the Labor Party and subsequently a leader of the dovish and now defunct Shelli Party, was sent to Vienna with Israeli government approval.