President Hosni Mubarak urged the Palestine Liberation Organization today to recognize Israel without waiting for a simultaneous move by Israel to recognize the PLO.
The Egyptian president said such a move would facilitate laying the groundwork for talks on the basis of President Reagan's Middle East peace plan. Egypt previously has called for mutual recognition by the PLO and Israel.
"The Palestinians should recognize the state of Israel," Mubarak stressed at a joint press conference with visiting French President Francois Mitterrand. "The PLO will lose nothing by recognizing Israel."
Linking his suggestion to the future of the U.S. peace initiative, Mubarak said that following such a PLO move, the Palestinian leaders could begin a dialogue with the United States and could also work with Jordan to reach an agreement on representation at peace talks.
"It is not advisable for the PLO to reject all initiatives the way Israel does," Mubarak said. "That is exactly what Israel wants."
Israel has vowed never to recognize the PLO.
Mitterrand also called for Palestinian recognition of Israel but insisted that the Jewish state must arrange in advance to show mutual recognition. He reiterated that France could not recognize the PLO because it is an organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel, a state France recognizes.
"The French position is based primarily on the recognition of the rights of peoples and the rights of states," Mitterrand said. "Israel has the right to survival behind secure, recognized and guaranteed borders. The Palestinian people have the right to determine their destiny and the right to have a homeland and to give it the form they wish."
Mitterrand said each side would have to make concessions to bring peace to the region. "Perhaps it is painful, with each side believing it is the bearer of a historical message, but that's the way it is," he said. "The single fact of asking the Arab states and the PLO to recognize Israel presupposes, of course, an equivalent gesture by Israel toward the Palestinians."
The PLO's attitude toward suggestions such as Mubarak's was indicated earlier this week by Nabil Shaath, recently appointed by PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat as a foreign policy adviser.
"The PLO," Shaath said in an interview, "totally and unequivocally rejects American extortion in attempting to get a recognition of our enemies' acquisition of our territory by force in return for the meager price of letting us talk to the U.S. administration."
Referring to Saudi Arabia and Algeria as allies, Shaath said the two countries have direct channels to the United States, and the PLO expects them to use their leverage to back the guerrilla organization's demands. Saudi King Fahd, Algerian President Chadli Bendjedid and Arafat met this week in the Algerian capital.
Denying that Egypt attempted to pressure the PLO to recognize Israel, he said that he hoped Egypt would still try to explain to the U.S. administration "that without the PLO and Palestinian rights there can be no peace in the area."