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Begin Says Row with U.S. Will Not Overshadow the Friendly Relations

Premier Menachem Begin told visiting American-Jewish journalists today that Israel’s disagreements with the United States over settlements in the occupied territories would “not overshadow the friendly relations between the two countries.” Meeting with delegates to the convention of the American Jewish Press Association here, Begin said the U.S. and Israel can agree “not to agree” on the settlements issue.

According to Begin, the settlements are legal under international law because they were established on territories conquered in a war of self-defense. The U.S. holds that the settlements are illegal under terms of the Geneva Convention that spells out the rights of an occupying power.

Begin expressed hope that his meeting with President Carter in Washington early next month would be as friendly and successful as their earlier meetings. The date of his departure is expected to be announced shortly. Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Alfred Atherton will return to the Middle East Monday to resume his efforts to get Israel and Egypt to agree on a joint declaration of principles so that peace negotiations between them can continue.

(Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, who is on a fund-raising tour in the United States, had a two-hour lunch today at the State Department with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Afterwards he paid a “courtesy call” on President Carter. See separate story P.3.)

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