Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat plans to leave Jordan on Friday after two weeks of talks with King Hussein and other Jordanian officials that failed to produce a breakthrough in efforts to secure a role for the PLO in the Middle East peace process, sources said today.
Arafat and Jordanian Prime Minister Zeid Rifai held a final session late today, PLO sources said, but the discussion centered on ways to preserve the Jordanian-PLO relationship in the face of differences over the PLO's policies on ties with the United States and negotiations with Israel.
Hussein, who diplomatic sources said was rapidly losing patience with Arafat, may go to Cairo on Saturday for talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, but the sources said it was not clear whether the purpose of the visit was to discuss the peace process.
U.S. officials, who have been working indirectly with the PLO through Jordanian channels in an attempt to reach common ground on peace negotiations, were angered by a last-minute submission of new demands by Arafat that proved "unacceptable" to both the United States and Jordan, diplomatic sources said.
One source said that Arafat appeared, in this move, to be concerned chiefly with his own organizational survival in the PLO, which has split, with one hard-line faction opposing his leadership.
Hani Hassan, a top aide to Arafat, said in an interview earlier today that the PLO had submitted to Hussein three formulas yesterday -- all including the same basic elements -- aimed at meeting U.S. conditions for a direct U.S.-PLO dialogue.
"We have offered the Americans three suggestions," Hassan said. "They have to choose one of them, and if they have a new one, we are ready to hear."
But later, according to sources here, Arafat added provisions calling on Hussein to obtain pledges from the United States to support Palestinian self-determination if the PLO would conditionally accept U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which recognizes Israel's right to exist within secure boundaries.
Yesterday's meeting between Hussein and Arafat was the first official Jordanian-PLO contact since talks had stalled a week ago over how the PLO could meet U.S. conditions without relinquishing its own demand for self-determination for the Palestinian people.
Washington has refused to meet with the PLO unless it accepts Resolution 242, and Resolution 338, which reaffirms 242, and unless it states a willingness to negotiate with Israel.
Sources close to the negotiations said the original text of one formula referred to the PLO's willingness to negotiate a Middle East settlement within the context of an international conference involving the participation of the Arab countries concerned, Israel and the five permanent Security Council members.
According to the formula, a Middle East settlement would be based on "the pertinent U.N. resolutions, including Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338."
PLO leaders refuse to accept 242 on its own because it only refers to a refugee problem and makes no reference to the Palestinian people or national rights.
"We hope that there will be a way out of this crisis, which we face when Resolution 242 is put before us without formulas that guarantee our national rights," said Salah Khalaf, a senior PLO official who is considered one of Arafat's most hard-line colleagues.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said in an interview today on Israel's Arabic television service that Israel will not negotiate with the PLO even if it accepts Resolution 242.
Shamir said Israel's Cabinet had discussed the possibility of PLO acceptance of 242 and rejected negotiations involving the PLO under any circumstances.