JERUSALEM UPI — An Israeli official said Friday that the next move in the latest Middle East peace bid is up to Arab nations, but Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin suggested that Syria may respond by escalating guerrilla activities in Lebanon.
Last Sunday, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak proposed direct talks between Israel and a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. Since then, each leader has sent two emissaries to the other's capital.
Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres has said he supports Mubarak's proposal provided that the joint delegation does not include members of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
'Ball Is in Arab Court'
"The main obstacle . . . is the Arab feedback to the Mubarak suggestions, especially to wait and see what the Jordanian response will be," a senior Israeli official said Friday. "Definitely the ball is now in the Arab court."
Rabin, meanwhile, suggested that Syria may respond to the peace contacts between Egypt and Israel by escalating guerrilla activities in Lebanon.
"The Syrians might feel they had an interest in escalating terror because of the political developments in this region that could lead to peace negotiations," Rabin told Israel Radio.
Syria categorically rejects all peace overtures to Israel, including the 1978 Camp David accords.
Rabin has charged that Syria supports Shia guerrillas in Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon and is responsible for "90%" of all guerrilla attacks against the Israelis there.
Spokesmen for Jordan and the PLO have said the Egyptian peace bid jeopardized the Feb. 11 Jordanian-Palestinian agreement to pursue a joint peace initiative.
Neither Jordan's King Hussein nor PLO chairman Yasser Arafat have personally commented on the Egyptian-Israeli contacts.
The senior Israeli official, who spoke to reporters on the condition that he not be named, said Egypt's position on whether the PLO must be part of the Jordanian-Palestinain delegation at the talks is "somewhat ambiguous."
'Still an Infight'
"There is still an infight in the Arab world over Yasser Arafat's organization's participation in the negotiations over the future of the Palestinian issue," he said.
In Cairo, Egyptian Prime Minister Kamal Hassan Ali said in an interview with the newspaper Al Gomhouria that the composition of the proposed Jordanian-Palestinian delegation was left "entirely" to Jordan and the PLO.
He also denied that Egypt initiated the contacts with Israel to put pressure on the PLO.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Ismat Abdel-Meguid flew to Baghdad Friday to discuss Arab and regional affairs with Iraqi Foreign Minister Tarek Aziz, the official Iraqi News Agency said.
It was not known if Mubarak's suggestions for peace talks were on the agenda, but INA said Azia stressed "that Baghdad will always consider the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole and legal representative of the Palestinian people."