Foreign Minister Shimon Peres appears to be staking his political career on a proposal for an international Mideast peace conference. The plan is strongly opposed by Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and his right-wing Likud Party, and the disagreement could bring down Israel's coalition government. Analysts say that if Mr. Peres fails to show that an international conference is really at hand, he could be blamed for the government's downfall and lose many votes in subsequent elections.
Peres and Mr. Shamir agreed yesterday to submit the international conference issue to Israel's 10-man inner Cabinet on Monday. Peres said he hoped a vote would be taken the same day, but that it is likely to take longer.
Political observers and some Cabinet ministers say they are baffled by Peres's single-minded push to bring his international conference plan to a Cabinet vote despite signs that there are still significant areas of disagreement between Israel and Jordan on the terms of the conference.
Peres has said that the broad guidelines for the conference have already been agreed to by Israel and Jordan and formulated in an American-sponsored document.
However, Likud ministers and other observers argue that details of certain key issues have yet to be nailed down, such the precise nature of Palestinian representation and the role of the Soviet Union and the other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.
``I assume Peres knows what he wants, but I want to know what he wants,'' said Yigael Hurvitz, minister without portfolio from the right-leaning Ometz Party.
Likud leaders have charged that Peres has deliberately hidden the unfinished nature of his international conference plan because he wants to use the issue to break up the government and achieve his true aim - new elections.
Even members of his own Labor Party - who Peres briefed on the plan last week - admit privately that they are in the dark about the details of an understanding with Jordan reported by Peres. King Hussein's denial yesterday of any agreement with Peres has only fueled the doubts surrounding the foreign minister's plan.