Rabin’s Plan on Uprising Spurned by Shamir, PLO
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin proposed a multi-step plan to end the Arab uprising, but a few hours later Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir slapped the proposal down and said it reflected just Rabin’s “personal opinion,” Israel Radio said Friday.
The Palestine Liberation Organization quickly rejected the plan, too, because it called for elections in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip while keeping the Israeli occupation in place.
The speedy give-and-take capped a week in which Israel’s government was pressed from within to find a political solution to turmoil in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip but came up only with new military measures to try to suppress it.
Even as he proposed his plan for peace, Rabin for the second time in a week relaxed rules for troops firing on rebellious Arabs. He granted the soldiers leeway to shoot at Palestinians who place rocks and burning tires on roads in order to obstruct traffic or military pursuit, Israel Radio reported.
On Tuesday, Rabin had authorized soldiers to shoot rock throwers even if they are fleeing the scene of a conflict. The progressively relaxed firing policies are a steady departure from rules that once restricted the use of bullets to “life-threatening” situations.
The rules have been liberalized over the past few months as a plastic-metal bullet has come into wider use by the army. The bullets, though designed to maim, have proved deadly in the close quarters of cities and villages.
15 Palestinians Wounded
On Friday, according to the Associated Press, at least 15 Palestinians were reported wounded in clashes with soldiers. Most of the injuries occurred when troops fired on stone-throwing protesters at three Gaza Strip refugee camps, AP quoted Arab reporters as saying.
In addition, AP said, a Palestinian alleged to be an Israeli collaborator was shot to death and another suspected collaborator died of wounds suffered earlier. Nearly 350 Palestinians and 10 Israeli Jews have died in the revolt.
In a further crackdown Friday, military authorities ordered all 1,200 schools in the West Bank to close indefinitely. The schools opened four weeks ago after having been shut for almost a year. The government contends that they are seedbeds of unrest, although turmoil seems to go on whether schools are open or not.
Human rights groups charge that the school ban is meant as a collective punishment for all the West Bank’s students.
Rabin’s peace plan called for Arabs to hold elections in the occupied lands to choose delegates for talks with Israel. The vote would be held only after a three- to six-month lull in the uprising, Rabin suggested.
He said that some “neutral” group could oversee the election but rejected any role for the United Nations.
Jailed Palestinian leaders who agree to the plan may be freed, Rabin said.
The talks would be aimed at setting up an “interim” period of autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza. Israeli soldiers would remain and Israeli settlers would be permitted to continue living in the occupied lands; Arabs would hold local political office. Autonomy would end sometime in the future with the West Bank and Gaza federating with either Israel or Jordan.
Warning From Rabin
Rabin concluded with a warning: “If you refuse to solve the dispute by way of negotiations and continue with violence, we shall use our maximum force against you. We are patient and we will persist until we conquer the violence.”
His plan echoed one proposed last fall by former Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. Peres, the Labor Party chief who is now finance minister in Shamir’s government, outlined the plan during Labor’s unsuccessful election campaign against Shamir’s rightist Likud Party. After the election, Labor joined a ruling coalition headed by Shamir.
In any event, Rabin’s proposal had hardly left his lips before Shamir disowned it. Both Shamir and Foreign Minister Moshe Arens said that peace proposals are “not a subject for public debate,” a report on Israel Radio said.
“The government peace plan is still being prepared,” a Foreign Ministry spokesman added curtly.
The PLO did not wait for Shamir’s reaction before turning down the plan. “The stones of the uprising have thwarted all the Zionist schemes, foremost of which is administrative autonomy,” declared Abdul-Rahmin Ahmed, a spokesman for the PLO in Bagdad. “No to elections under occupation.”