Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Shamir and Peres disagree on London

The London agreement was one of the hotspots of disagreement between right and left in Israel, concerning the chances of peace and agreements with the Arabs, and the Palestinians in particular.
In April 1987, Foreign Minister Peres signed a joint document with King Hussein of Jordan, outlining an idea of an international peace conference with the attendance of the five standing members of the Security Council. The document stated that Israel would negotiate with a joint Jordanian – Palestinian delegation (not including the PLO) on the future of the control of the West Bank. Peres wanted the initiative to be led by the Americans. According to Peres in his autobiography, Shamir knew about and had approved his trip; Shamir in his own autobiography claims that Peres reported to him, the Prime Minister, only after the agreement had been reached.  Shamir, who had succeeded Peres as Prime Minster according to the rotation agreements of the National Unity government with Labor formed after the elections of 1984, opposed the agreement.  He had a numberof reasons: first, he regarded an international conference as an instrument ofpressure on Israel to make unwanted concessions. Second, he believed that the PLO would manage to maneuver itself into the conference, and was not willing to negotiate with them. Third and last – the personal side: the Unity government was an uneasy co-habitation of two opposing parties, with different ideologies and positions. Moreover, thanks to former Prime Minister Rabin's published memoir Peres was perceived as a wily and conniving politician; the tough, un-compromising Shamir regarded Peres signing an agreement without his approval and without cabinet sanction, as an act of duplicity.
The agreement did not receive the government's approval; Hussein felt betrayed by Israel and backed away. In December 1987 the first Intifada erupted, and in July 1988, Jordan finally renounced its claim to the West Bank.

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