JERUSALEM — U.S. envoy Richard W. Murphy today presented to Israeli leaders a plan calling for Palestinian elections this year in the occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, officials said.
The balloting would be for a government for the 1.5 million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Once the Palestinian government was in place, Israeli troops would be withdrawn from predominantly Arab cities, according to Israeli officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"I believe Israel is ready to sit around a negotiation table for the sake of peace. We are interested in peace. We are not interested in unrest in the territories," Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin told reporters after meeting Murphy.
However, officials said Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir rejected two key elements of the plan.
Similar to '78 Plan
The plan is similar to the Palestinian autonomy envisioned by the 1978 Camp David accords, but officials said it calls for implementation of self-rule in three years instead of the five years spelled out under the Camp David plan.
If an agreement in principle on timing and a format for talks can be reached, U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz will try to persuade the Soviets to go along with the idea when he goes to Moscow in March, the officials said.
Talks on the plan would be launched in April and elections would likely be held in the fall, the officials said. Discussion on the final status of the occupied territories would begin in December, even if an agreement on self-rule hadn't been reached, they said.
Murphy was upbeat after meeting Tuesday night with Shamir.
"This discussion gave me an opportunity to propose ideas for advancing the peace process. We received great encouragement to continue the search for additional ways to advance the peace process," he said.
But officials said Shamir rejected two major elements in the U.S. proposal--opening talks on Palestinian self-rule, as part of an international conference on the region, and setting a date for talks on the future status of the occupied territories.
Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told Murphy that he had "no substantial reservations" on the U.S. plan, an official said.
Speaking on Israel radio, Peres said, "If there is a political initiative, it will provide the sole chance for balancing the picture appearing on the TV screens" around the world, he said.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military today lifted curfews that had confined 212,000 Arabs to their homes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip for up to 10 days. Curfews remained in force in half a dozen West Bank villages and refugee camps where 65,000 Palestinians live.
Also today, a Palestinian died of gunshot wounds suffered in a clash with Israeli army troops. Imad Mahmoud Al Hamlawi, 22, of the occupied Gaza Strip's Maghazi refugee camp, died at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba, a hospital spokeswoman said. She said Hamlawi was brought to the hospital Jan. 9 with gunshot wounds in the spine. The military said he was wounded by army gunfire.