JERUSALEM — Israeli leaders reacted skeptically Tuesday to the agreement between Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat and Jordan's King Hussein to jointly pursue "a just solution of the Middle East crisis."
"It's still unclear what they did in Amman," Prime Minister Shimon Peres said of the accord reported by the two Arab leaders Monday.
"First of all, we'll see what they agreed between them--if they agreed to make peace between themselves, or if they want peace with Israel," Peres remarked in response to pupils' questions during a tour of a high school near Haifa.
Israel's litmus test of any Mideast peace proposal is acceptance of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which recognizes Israel's right to exist within secure borders.
Joint Initiative Proposed
Hussein in November proposed a joint Jordanian-Palestinian peace initiative including Resolution 242, but there was no evidence Tuesday that whatever pact he reached with Arafat mentioned the controversial resolution.
"The question is whether what we hear (about the Arafat-Hussein agreement) is all there is," a senior Israeli politician said Tuesday. "If it is, then there is no (mention of) 242."
And if the resolution is not mentioned? "Then nothing happened," the politician, who asked not to be identified, replied.
The Palestinians have rejected the resolution because it does not recognize them as a legitimate nation, referring to them instead as merely a refugee problem.
"I have the impression that Hussein gave in to Arafat," Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin said in an interview with Israel Armed Forces radio. "That is a preliminary impression, and therefore it does not constitute, at least as far as things appear at the moment, any sort of change which really makes possible a significant turning point."
Israel has also refused to negotiate with the PLO, which it rejects as a terrorist organization. Officials here say that for there to be progress, the Palestinians must give Hussein authority to negotiate on their behalf--another condition that, according to Rabin on Tuesday, apparently was not fulfilled in Monday's agreement.
Arab sources, including Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said Tuesday that the accord calls for a Middle East settlement based on a land-for-peace formula, U.N. resolutions recognizing Palestinian rights and a confederation between Jordan and any Palestinian entity that might emerge.