Prior to his visit to Washington, Mr. Shamir worked on his proposals with Mr. Rabin, Mr. Arens and Mr. Peres. There was no discussion at the Cabinet at that stage. During the first week of April President Mubarak visited Washington for talks with the Bush Administration. He refused to attend a meeting with President Bush and Prime Minister Shamir. President Bush outlined his own thinking on the peace process by saying, on 3 April, that he wanted "an end to the occupation and thought that a "properly structured international conference could play a useful role at an appropriate time. " In his talks with President Bush and Secretary of State Baker, Prime Minister Shamir presented the following four-point plan. It called for making the Camp David Accords the foundation of the peace process; end of Arab hostility and belligerency to Israel; multinational effort to solve the Arab refugee problem and the election of Palestinian delegates to "negotiate an interim period of self-governing administration. " The American reaction was on the whole positive. Text of the Shamir plan was released by the Israeli Foreign Ministry. The release also contained additional points made by Foreign Minister Arens.
1. The Camp David Partners - Reconfirmation of the Commitment to Peace.
Ten years ago, the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt was concluded on the basis of the Camp David Accords. When the accords were signed, it was expected that more Arab countries would shortly join the circle of peace. This expectation was not realized.
The strength of Israeli-Egyptian relations and the cooperation between the three partners to the accords have a decisive influence on the chances for Middle East peace, and the Israeli-Egyptian treaty is the cornerstone to the building of peace in the region.
Therefore, the prime minister has called on the three countries whose leaders affixed their signature to the Camp David Accords, the U.S., Egypt and Israel, to renew, 10 years later, their commitment to the agreements and to peace.
2. The Arab Countries - From a State of War to a Process of Peace.
The prime minister urged the U.S. and Egypt to call on the other Arab countries to desist from hostility towards Israel and to replace belligerency and boycott with negotiation and cooperation. Of all the Arab countries, only Egypt has recognized Israel and its right to exist. Many of these states actively participated in wars against Israel by direct involvement or indirect assistance. To this day, the Arab countries are partners in an economic boycott against Israel, refuse to recognize it and refuse to establish diplomatic relations with it.
The solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the building of confidence leading to a permanent settlement require a change in the attitude of the Arab countries towards Israel. Israel, therefore, calls on these states to put an end to this historic anomaly and to join direct bilateral negotiations aimed at normalization and peace.
3. A Solution to the Refugee Problem - An International Effort.
The prime minister has called for an international effort, led by the U.S., and with the significant participation of Israel, to solve the problem of the Arab refugees. The refugee problem has been perpetuated by the leaders of the Arab countries, while Israel with its meagre resources is absorbing hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Settling the refugees must not wait for a political process or come in its stead.
The matter must be viewed as a humanitarian problem and action must be taken to ease the human distress of the refugees and to ensure for their families appropriate living quarters and self respect.
Some 300,000 people live in refugee camps in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District. In the 1970s, Israel unilaterally undertook the rehabilitation of residents of refugee camps in Gaza and erected 10 neighbourhoods in which 11,000 families reside. This operation was carried out in partnership with the residents despite PLO objections.
The time has now come to ensure appropriate infrastructure, living quarters and services for the rest of the residents of the camps who, at the same time are victims of the conflict, hostages to it, and an element which perpetuates its continued existence.
Goodwill and an international effort to allocate the necessary resources will ensure a satisfactory solution to this humanitarian effort and will help improve the political climate in the region.
In order to bring about a process of political negotiations and in order to locate legitimate representatives of the Palestinian population, the prime minister proposes that free elections be held among the Arabs of Judea, Samaria and Gaza - elections that will be free of the intimidation and terror of the PLO.
These elections will permit the development of an authentic representation that is not self-appointed appointed from the outside. This representation will be comprised of people who will be chosen by the population in free elections and who will express, in advance, their willingness to take part in the following diplomatic process:
The aim of the elections is to bring about the establishment of a delegation that will participate in negotiations on an interim settlement, in which a self-governing administration will be set up. The interim period will serve as an essential test of cooperation and coexistence. It will be followed by negotiations on the final settlement, in which Israel will be prepared to discuss any option which will be presented.
The U.S. administration has expressed its support for the idea and following the prime minister's return, his proposals will be discussed here, and the various questions surrounding the holding of elections will be examined. Contacts necessary for the implementation of the proposals will be maintained.
Other points contained in Arens's message:
Israel recognizes the fact that countries must take risks for peace, and it did so at Camp David. At the same time, Israel cannot be expected to take steps that would endanger its very existence. As is well known, our estimate is that the establishment of an additional state west of the Jordan will create a focus of instability which will endanger the peace, Israel, and the region as a whole.
After a long freeze in the Middle East, the prime minister's initiative creates a new opportunity for moving the peace process forward. For movement towards peace, Israel needs partners and it hopes that these will, indeed, be found.
The involvement of Jordan in the diplomatic process is most important as it is Israel's neighbour, and - by virtue of its demographic and geographic characteristics - the connecting link between the Arab and the Palestinian aspects of the conflict.
For your information, after the publication of the initiative, several Palestinian personalities said in private conversations that the proposals constitute a basis for progress. President Mubarak, too, did not initially reject the prime minister's proposals.
During the prime minister's visit to Washington, it was learned that the Soviet Union is supplying attack aircraft to Libya and Syria, and the exchange of fire in Lebanon increased along with the Syrian involvement there. All these serve as a reminder of the wider context of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
It should be noted that the main aspect of the conflict is the Arab threat to Israel and the refusal of Arab countries to recognize its existence. The quantities of weapons in the Middle East, the continued arming of Arab countries with sophisticated weapons, the recent Iraqi and Libyan use of chemical weapons on the battlefield and against civilians, the character of the regimes and their instability, fundamentalist extremism in the area - all of these serve as a daily reminder of the reality with which Israel must contend.