JERUSALEM (Jan. 16)
Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan said today that he had personally recommended that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance postpone his departure for Jerusalem until Israel and Egypt resolved their deadlock over the agenda of the joint political committee which convenes here tomorrow. Dayan denied that the delay was, in any way, a form of U.S. pressure on Israel.
He said that he had suggested to Vance last week, through the U.S. Ambassador, that he should not come to Israel until the agenda issue was settled. “Why should he waste his time here watching me and Mr. Kaamel (Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Ibrahim Kaamel) wrangle about the agenda?” Dayan said at a meeting with reporters.
He acknowledged, however, that the U.S. had played a “very active role” in mediating the agenda deadlock and conceded that without the Americans it might have been impossible to reach an agreement. Dayan stated that, in general, he favored an active American role as mediator because “face-to-face talks are good but not always enough.”
Dayan added: “We have been talking face-to-face with Jordan for the last ten years and have achieved nothing.” His remark appeared to be a confirmation of reports published over the years, but vehemently denied by both sides, that Israel and Jordan have had numerous contacts at the highest levels.
Dayan said he learned from press reports from Washington that Vance was coming to Jerusalem with a U.S. compromise proposal for the West Bank but that he had not been informed officially of this. The American proposal is believed to endorse Premier Menachem Begin’s offer of self-rule to the West Bank and Gaza Strip Arabs but only as a transitional arrangement that would lead ultimately to broader independence or self-determination with close links to Jordan.
OBSTACLES TO PEACE ACCORD
The Foreign Minister acknowledged that Egypt was demanding and needed, for its own relations with the Arab world, an agreed statement of principle on the question of self-determination for the Palestinians. He said this was one of the three current obstacles to a peace agreement.
The other two, he said, were bilateral issues mainly of a military nature but including Israeli settlements in northern Sinai; and a decision by Egypt whether or not to sign a separate peace agreement with Israel. The Foreign Minister said his own assessment at this point is that Egypt will not act alone.
If, however, Jordan and the moderate Palestinians joined Egypt, then, with American encouragement, it would sign a pact with Israel, Dayan said. What is required, he said, is a breakthrough on the Jordanian-Palestinian aspects of the conflict. He stressed the positive effects of U.S. mediation and the importance of later American political and economic support for the parties.
But Dayan said Israel was angered and saddened by President Carter’s recent statements that the U.S. still regards Israel’s settlements in the occupied areas to be illegal. According to Dayan, those statements did not coincide with the earlier American position on the settlements.
Dayan said that the political committee agenda finally agreed on by Israel and Egypt was in harmony “with all of Israel’s positions.” He said that did not mean that the Egyptians would not raise all of their own positions at the Jerusalem talks. But Cairo’s efforts to have its positions incorporated into the agenda, thus denoting a priori acceptance, were unsuccessful, he said. He said the agenda contained no reference to the Palestinian people and no specific call for Palestinian self-determination or total Israeli withdrawal from Arab territories.
THE THREE AGENDA ITEMS
The agenda consists of three items: a declaration of principles that would govern the negotiations of a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement; guidelines for negotiations over the issues of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (the Israeli version refers to “Judaea, Samaria and Gaza”); the elements of peace treaties between Israel and its neighbors in accordance with the principles of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.
Israeli sources said the Egyptians had been pressing for an item to be labeled “the end of occupation” and another called “principles of security based on reciprocity.” Still another Egyptian proposal–apparently the most objectionable From Israel’s viewpoint–called for “a just solution of the Palestinian problem (or “the problem of the Palestinian people”) in all its aspects on the basis of self-determination.”
Israel rejected the phrase “in all its aspects” because it implied the inclusion of Palestinians now living outside of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The terns “Palestinian problem” or “Palestinian people” were also unacceptable to Israel because of their political connotations. The agenda deadlock was finally resolved yesterday when Egypt agreed to accept the word “issues” after the words “West Bank and Gaza” According to the Israelis “West Bank and Gaza” alone had political implications.