Jordan and the Palestine Liberation Organization have agreed that the West Bank and Gaza Strip, currently occupied by Israel, should eventually be confederated with Jordan, according to Egyptian Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid. But he indicated that the PLO and Jordan are still far apart on what such a ``confederation'' would be.
Dr. Abdel Meguid, interviewed at his office here, provided new details of the discussion at last week's lightning summit between King Hussein of Jordan, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat, and Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, in the Jordanian resort of Aqaba.
The United States insists that the West Bank and Gaza Strip should be linked to Jordan. The US also says that the Palestinians should be represented at peace talks by a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation.
Abdel Meguid said that Jordan would definitely be involved, but that the old Jordanian option - representation by Jordan of the Palestinians at peace talks and Jordanian sovereignty over the territories Israel occupied in the Mideast war of 1967 - was ``closed.''
In Aqaba, Jordan and the PLO began redefining the concept of confederation.
The PLO wants two independent states and a jointly run army. The King is said to have reacted angrily when this was suggested.
The two men avoided details, Abdel Meguid said, an indication that they still differ. Discussion of a joint delegation, a second thorny subject, was put off.
Abdel Meguid said the tripartite discussions in Aqaba explored PLO plans.
Egypt offered its view that UN Resolution 181, which partitioned Palestine into two states in 1947, and Security Council Resolution 242 form a full circle:
Resolution 181 implied ``mutual recognition'' and, if accepted, eliminates the need to change the PLO charter. Resolution 242, he said, defines the Palestinian state as the areas occupied in 1967.
Egypt's strategy leading up to peace talks runs something like this: With the PLO having recognized UN Resolutions 181 and 242, and with Shimon Peres as prime minister of Israel, negotiations at an international conference can get under way sometime next year.
Abdel Meguid said he did not know exactly what would decide be decided at an expected meeting of the Palestine National Council (which operates as a parliament-in-exile) in Algiers in mid-November.
``We have warned them,'' he said, ``to be mindful and not blow the whole matter,'' a reference to PLO hardliners.