Israel’s Peres Sees Regional Cooperation Emerging
JERUSALEM (AP) _ Foreign Minister Shimon Peres told the opening session of Parliament Monday that signs of regional cooperation are emerging even before talks begin on implementing Palestinian autonomy.
As if to prove Peres’ point, Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin arrived Monday in the first visit to Tunisia by such a high-ranking Israeli official. Beilin said he hoped his visit would speed the normalization of diplomatic relations with Arab countries.
And Transportation Minister Yisrael Kessar said on Monday that Egypt, through Egyptian Ambassador Mohammed Basyouni, has proposed reopening rail links between Cairo and Tel Aviv, severed in 1948.
Peres told legislators that in his talks with Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan in Washington two weeks ago, the two affirmed that Jordanians, Palestinians and Israelis should be able to forge greater economic cooperation through joint projects.
Peres said he proposed to Hassan combining the ports of Aqaba and Eilat and building one large international airport to accommodate tourists.
He said they also discussed cooperating on transportation, infrastructure, water resources, exploiting minerals around the Dead Sea, and agriculture.
″I was happy that Prince Hassan, who speaks Hebrew by the way, thinks in the same way,″ Peres said.
″We must organize properly a modern economic infrastructure that will turn the geographic proximity of the region to an economic advantage for all.″
The opposition belittled Peres’ vision. Moshe Katsav of the Likud told him to retire and write poems and songs.
″At the central bus station they will sing your songs everywhere and maybe there, at least, you will not cause any damage,″ Katsav said.