JERUSALEM (Jul. 13)
Premier Menachem Begin said after a special Cabinet meeting today that he will be going to the U.S. with a clear mandate from his government with respect to the ideas he will present to President Carter at their White House meetings July 19-20. He said that the Cabinet, which convened to hear his briefing, agreed unanimously on all points that will be raised with Carter.
In a radio interview this evening, Begin said that he was going to the U.S. “with a good feeling” although not without a certain amount of concern because of the importance of his mission. He said that out of respect to Carter he could not disclose the content of the ideas he discussed with his Cabinet today but they were not secret and would be revealed to the public “in due time.” It was learned that virtually all members of the Cabinet, which is comprised only of Likud and the National Religious Party (NRP), took part in the discussion.
The wall of silence that Begin has imposed on his Cabinet held fast. The Premier and his fellow ministers emerged tight-lipped from their three-hour session, much to the chagrin of the media which immediately plunged into an orgy of speculation as to what concepts for peace Begin will be taking to Washington.
MEDIA SPECULATION RAMPANT
In the absence of hard facts and no hints from the apparently leak-proof Cabinet, the media speculation was general and often contradictory. Some papers said Begin will insist on an overall, comprehensive peace settlement and would reject ideas for more interim agreements. Others assumed that the Premier is going to Washington with several options, including possible new interim accords in Sinai and on the Golan Heights.
With respect to the Judaea-Samaria regions, expected to be the focal point of the Carter-Begin talks, one source said Begin would not deal in specifics but merely express Israel’s readiness to resume negotiations with no pre-conditions. Other sources said Begin would suggest “a functional solution” that would grant civilian autonomy to the Arabs in Judaea-Samaria who would be allowed to vote for the Jordanian parliament while matters of defense and security would remain under Israeli control.
But still another source said that in “a closed forum” Begin rejected any territorial concessions on the West Bank and did not share Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s views in favor of increasing Jordanian involvement there by “a functional arrangement.” Meanwhile, technical preparations are being concluded for the Begin trip. He is expected to be accompanied by the largest entourage of officials that ever joined an Israeli Prime Minister on a visit to the U.S.