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Israel, Jordan Nail Down the Framework for a Detailed Peace Treaty : Mideast: They plan to announce the pact after an Israeli-Palestinian accord is signed. It could be 'twins next week,' Peres says.

September 09, 1993|NORMAN KEMPSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Israel and Jordan have completed negotiations on the framework for a peace treaty that they plan to announce once Israel and the Palestinians sign their agreement on limited self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, officials in both delegations said Wednesday.

"We may have twins next week," Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said jubilantly in Jerusalem, referring to the possibility of signing a breakthrough agreement with Jordan as well as the Palestinians in Washington next week. "Two babies in one birth is not so bad."

Although the agreement is technically an agenda for additional negotiations, Israeli and Jordanian officials said it is so detailed that it amounts to a tentative peace treaty, calling for cooperation in economic development, trade, tourism, energy, water resources and the environment. Joint working groups have already been established to work out the details.

"We have ironed out the last wrinkles that were left," an Israeli official said in Washington.

If all goes as now anticipated, Jordan will become the first Arab country to have a peace treaty with Israel since Egypt signed one in 1979. An agreement between Israel and Lebanon concluded in 1983 was abrogated by Lebanon less than a year later.

Jordan's readiness to sign the pact, whose drafting was largely completed last spring, is expected to add momentum to the Arab-Israeli peace talks after months of stalemate. After withholding final approval on the agreement until Israel and the Palestinians made substantial progress in their negotiations, King Hussein's willingness to sign appears to reflect an emerging Arab consensus, following the Israeli-Palestinian agreement, to make peace.

A Jordanian official said the two governments will announce the agenda after the Israel-Palestine Liberation Organization agreement is signed. That could be as early as Tuesday if Israel and the PLO keep a tentative Monday date for a White House signing ceremony, or it could be sometime next month if the Israeli-PLO arrangements hit a snag, the official said.

In Tunis, Tunisia, PLO chairman Yasser Arafat convened a meeting of the organization's Executive Committee called to ratify the agreement, which has already been approved by the Israeli Cabinet. PLO hard-liners oppose the pact, but Arafat is believed to have enough support to prevail although it could be a bruising fight.

Israel and the PLO negotiators are near agreement on mutual recognition, clearing the way for senior officials to sign the West Bank and Gaza Strip accord, which calls for self-rule to begin in Gaza and the West Bank town of Jericho and gradually extend to other Palestinian population centers.

But the Israeli government is demanding that the PLO acknowledge Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to eliminate from its governing charter all references to the destruction of Israel. Arafat plans to ask the Executive Committee to endorse the required changes, which would have to be approved later by the Palestine National Council, the PLO's "parliament in exile."

Israeli and PLO officials put the finishing touches on the text of the agreement on mutual recognition at a meeting in Paris, Israeli officials said in Jerusalem. Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Jorgen Holst, who played host to earlier talks in Oslo, acted as mediator.

Peres, interviewed in Jerusalem, was confident that other remaining problems would also be resolved within a few days. He was preparing to fly to Washington on Saturday for the signing of the Palestinian-Israeli declaration on self-government at the White House on Monday.

The current problems were not nearly as tough, Peres said, as those already overcome in the months of secret negotiations between Israel and the PLO.

"The earlier hurdles weren't seen because the negotiations weren't known," said Peres, "but they were far more difficult."

The Israeli magazine Haolam Hazeh quoted Arafat as saying that Israel and Syria have reached agreement on a peace pact calling for return of the Golan Heights to Syria. In Washington, Israeli and Syrian negotiators have reported progress on such an agreement but have said that important matters remain to be settled.

Syria, like Jordan, did not want to appear to be making a separate peace with Israel. President Hafez Assad called repeatedly for the Arabs to seek a "comprehensive" agreement that would cover all of them. The Israel-PLO agreement removed that impediment to an Israel-Syria pact but left other obstacles.

Ever since the separate but interlocking peace talks began in Madrid in October, 1991, however, Israel and Jordan have been relatively close to agreement. Unlike the other Arab parties to the talks, they have had no serious territorial disputes since Hussein signed over to the Palestinians Jordan's claim to the West Bank.

Although still technically in a state of war, the two nations have cooperated quietly for years.

Jordan controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem until Israeli forces seized them in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

In Jerusalem, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin continued to face strong opposition to Israel's accord with the PLO on Palestinian self-government. Several thousand demonstrators remained encamped outside his office after a massive overnight rally and several skirmishes with police attempting to keep the protest from spilling into the streets. According to police, 45 people were injured and 33 arrested, including several of the demonstration's organizers.

Times staff writer Michael Parks, in Jerusalem, contributed to this report.

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