Israel and Egypt will attempt to negotiate a peace settlement, beginning later this month, without the participation of Jordan, at least for the time being, and with some confusion as to the role of the United States.
That was the consensus here after a weekend of rapid-fire events during which King Hussein of Jordon met with President Carter in Teheran, Carter announced that he would fly to Egypt Wednesday for a meeting with President Anwar Sadat, and the Cabinet was reportedly told by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan that the Egyptian position has hardened since Sadat’s summit meeting with Premier Menachem Begin at Ismailia a week ago.
Israelis are waiting, with some apprehension the outcome of the Carter-Sadat talks, to be held in Aswan. Observers here believe that Hussein and Carter reached an understanding in Teheran that Israel should be persuaded to soften its position and if that is achieved, Jordan might join the negotiations of the joint Israeli-Egyptian political committee scheduled to open in Jerusalem in mid-January. In that context, American pressure on Israel is expected to mount in the next few days.
PURPOSE OF ASWAN MEETING
Carter announced in Teheran Saturday that he would stop over at Aswan for about two hours on his flight from Saudi Arabia to France. He said he would confer with Sadat on ways to persuade other moderate Arab countries to join the Israeli-Egyptian peace talks. The President’s National Security Advisor, Zbiniew Brzezinski, who is accompanying him on his current overseas tour, told reporters the purpose of the Aswan meeting was “to see whether the peace process can be extended to more moderate Arabs–the Jordanians, the moderate Palestinians and the Saudis.”
Carter is expected to brief Sadat on his talks with Hussein. But it is believed here that his decision to include Egypt on his itinerary reflected a desire to personally reassure the Egyptian leader who was upset by Carter’s endorsement of Begin’s peace plan for the West Bank and Gaza Strip which precludes the establishment of a Palestinian state. Carter praised Begin, in a nationally televised year-end interview last Wednesday night for showing great flexibility and taking “a long step forward” in his peace proposals.
HUSSEIN OUTLINES HIS VIEWS
Meanwhile, Hussein, appearing on the CBSTV “Face the Nation” program from Teheran yesterday, said he would join the Middle East peace talks only when he felt he could made a constructive contribution. He said a peace settlement was not possible until Israel agrees to withdraw from all occupied Arab territory, including East Jerusalem and therefore Jordon would remain on the sidelines for the time being.
“Whenever the opportunity does arise where we feel we con act in a more constructive way we definitely will not hesitate,” he said. “We could only negotiate a solution if Israel were prepared to return all the territories occupied in June of 1967. Arab sovereignty over the Arab part of the city of Jerusalem.”
One report quoted Hussein as saying that Carter had failed to persuade him to join the peace talks now. But Carter said, after his meeting with the Jordanian ruler, that he saw no reason why Jordan should participate directly in the Israeli-Egyptian talks at present.
“Under certain principles, King Hussein would be ready to join the talks either directly with the Israelis or jointly with Egypt and Israel,” Carter said, “but at the moment I think President Sadat is strongly representing the Arab position and for the moment I see no reason–I think the King agrees–for Jordan to join the talks directly.”
The Shah of Iran, who had meetings with both Carter and Hussein over the weekend, said on an NBC television news interview Saturday that he thought Hussein “should play a much mare important role” than before in the peace process but he regarded Begin’s plan for self-rule for Arabs on the West Bank and Gaza Strip while retaining Israeli military control of those regions as “a very rigid plan. He should be more flexible,” the Shah said. He also said he thought Carter’s endorsement of Begin’s position was “not very realistic.”
EGYPT’S VIEWS ASSESSED
Meanwhile, Maariv’s political correspondent, Yosif Harif, quoted Dayan as saying at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting that it Egypt continues to adopt a hard line there will be no agreement with Israel. Harif, who did not disclose the source of his information, said Dayan told the Cabinet that Begin’s plan for the West Bank and Gaza Strip was indeed “Israel’s final bargaining position,” as Begin himself indicated after the Ismailia meeting.
However, observers here noted that difficult negotiations were expected and that Begin still believes peace is attainable. The Cabinet will convene tomorrow to prepare guidelines for the Israeli political and military committees that will begin negotiations with the Egyptians later in the month.
It was noted here that while the Egyptian news media has taken a hard line toward the Israeli plan, Sadat is apparently trying to convey the impression that he is prepared to meet Israel half way on the West Bank issue if Israel moves the same distance toward him. Observers cited Sadat’s remarks published yesterday in the Egyptian weekly,” October.” Sadat said, “We must give up the policy of demanding everything or rejecting everything. It is desirable that we achieve whatever we can achieve until we achieve all that we want to achieve.”
VANCE STRIKES CAUTIOUS NOTE
Israelis have taken note of Secretary of State Cyrus Vance’s cautionary remarks on peace prospects mode to reporters on President Carter’s plane on route to Europe Friday. The Secretary said that while progress was mode at the Ismailia talks, expectations developed which were “greater than they should have been.” Vance will represent the U.S. at the Israel-Egyptian political committee talks in Jerusalem.
Discussing the popular resection to the Ismailia talks. Vance said it was simply unrealistic to ex pect that the problems which have been plaguing the Middle East for 30 years would be resolved at a single meeting. “He also said, without waiting for a question from newsmen, that he wanted “to make it clear” that the U.S. has not endorsed Begin’s peace plan outlined in the Knesset last Wednesday.
However, he said, the U.S. believes those proposals are “an appropriate starting point for discussions on the West Bank-Gaza issue.” He said he hoped that “at a stage in the not too distant future, the Palestinians would become involved” and given a voice in determining their fate.
Vance said he believed President Hafez Assad of Syria “is going to sit on the sidelines and watch and see what happens for a while.” He added that Assad was “definitely keeping the door open to go back to Geneva at a later date but, for the time being, he is not going to play a part in any of the discussions that are going on.” Vance said he still thought it was possible to reconvene the Geneva conference in 1978.
CARTER AT WARSAW GHETTO MEMORIAL
Carter, who began his six-nation trip last Thursday, made his first stopover in Poland. On Friday, Carter, accompanied by his wife, Rosalynn, visited the Warsaw Ghetto Memorial. With his head bowed and his right hand clutching his forehead for several seconds, apparently in prayer, the President told Polish officials: “They died alone but they live in our conscience. This is a place of great courage and bravery.”
Earlier, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Carter told a group of war veterans: “Our mutual experiences in war show us the need for peace.” At each memorial, the President stepped briefly into the crowd to shake hands.