WASHINGTON -- Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was scheduled to meet Clinton administration officials today in an attempt to revive Arab-Israeli peace negotiations.
But Israeli diplomats here expressed concern that the administration may expect Mr. Rabin to arrive with bold new plans for advancing stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as ideas for moving talks forward between Israel and Syria.
In fact, they said, Mr. Rabin hopes to spend much of his time here mapping out a new security relationship between Israel and the United States that will reflect the realities of a post-Cold War world, as well as a Middle East where the prospects of a multistate Arab war against Israel have faded.
Almost as soon as Mr. Rabin lands, Secretary of State Warren M. Christopher and Anthony Lake, President Clinton's national security adviser, were to meet with him at his hotel in a session scheduled to last several hours.
Mr. Rabin is expected to meet with Mr. Clinton for three hours Monday, and then hold another lengthy session Tuesday with senior State Department and National Security Council officials who specialize in Arab-Israeli negotiations.
Administration officials have said they hope Mr. Rabin will bring ideas for fleshing out Israel's bare-bones proposal to the Palestinians on transferring some daily administrative authority in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip from the Israeli army to Palestinians.
The U.S. officials are hoping Mr. Rabin might propose measures that could help lure Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
All talks between Israel, Arab states and the Palestinians were suspended last December after Israel expelled more than 400 suspected Palestinian activists to southern Lebanon. The Palestinians retaliated by pulling out of the peace talks.
The administration has tried hard since January to restart the talks and announced Wednesday it was inviting the parties to return to Washington April 20 for a ninth round of negotiations. But Palestinian negotiators refused to accept the invitation and told reporters they will return only if Israel promises to stop
Mr. Rabin's trip is being closely watched in Israel, where his political opponents are fearful he might agree to territorial compromise on the strategic Golan Heights or in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, head of the conservative Likud bloc, told Israeli radio yesterday he feared Mr. Rabin would give in to U.S. pressure and make territorial concessions.