Israel formally agreed today to the U.S. proposal that Palestinian representatives constitute part of an all-Arab delegation at the opening session of the forthcoming Geneva Middle East peace conference.
The Israeli decision raised hopes that the Geneva talks can begin soon, perhaps even this year, if the U.S. proposal receives the approval of all the Arab participants.
Jordanian and Egyptian officials have indicated that their governments might support the proposal. A decision from Syria is expected within the next few days.
The formula, given to Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan when he visited Washington last week, is intended to provide for Palestinian representation in the peace talks but to bar participation by the Palestine Liberation Organization.
In an interview today on the CBS program "Face the Nation." Dayan said the Israeli decision indicated no softening of his country's refusal to negotiate with the PLO.
Dayan said, however, that Israel would make no special effort to ascertain whether Palestinians at the Geneva conference were also representing the PLO. IF they sympathize with the PLO in the bottom of their hearts, we cannot check that," he said.
The United States contends that Palestinian participation in the Geneva talks is a key to their success.
Israel previously refused to agree to Palestinian pressence in a unified delegation or to negotiations with a unified Arab delegation of any kind. It feared that the arrangement could mask a PLO presence and it opposed "bloc voting" by a single Arab delegation.
The American proposal provides for a unified Arab delegation only at the opening session of the Geneva talks. After that, Israel would negotiate matters such as the Sinai, West Bank and Golan Heights separately with Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
The Israeli government spokesman, Aryeh Naor, who announced the decision taken at the weekly Cabinet [TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE]