WASHINGTON (Jun. 21)
The United States said today that Israel “did not fully respond” to its questions on the future of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and it will undertake “active consultations” with both Egypt and Israel to “help the parties resume negotiations.”
In an unusual written statement issued at the State Department following two days of questioning with little substance in U.S. replies, the Carter Administration said the U.S. has “now had time to reflect on the Israeli replies, and we have received a full explanation on the Cabinet decision from Foreign Minister (Moshe) Dayan. We regret that the Israeli replies did not fully respond to our questions. We also have been holding discussions with the Egyptian government about its ideas on West Bank and Gaza issues.” The statement added “In light of Israel’s responses and these Egyptian views, we will now be undertaking active consultations with both the Egyptian and Israel governments as to next steps which might be taken to help the parties resume negotiations.”
TOP U.S. MIDEAST EXPERTS MAY ACCOMPANY VP
State Department chief spokesman Hodding Carter, who released the statement, said he though the “outcome” of the new consultations should be known in the “near future.” He did not rule out the possibility that either Secretary of State Cyrus Vance of special Middle East Ambassador Alfred L. Atherton will go to the area soon but he again indicated that the first high level American-Israeli contact will come when Vice President Walter Mondale is in Israel June 29-July 2 to mark Israel’s 30th anniversary. Meanwhile, it was reliably reported that Mondale will be accompanied by the chief Middle East specialists of the White House and the State Department. This lent credence to the speculation that Mondale will put forth the American position to the Israelis in specific terms. The specialists are Harold H. Sounders, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs; David Aron, Deputy Chief of the National Security Council headed by Zbigniew Brzezinski; and the Council’s Middle East expert, William Quandt. Confirmation that these three would accompany Mondale was lacking but Carter acknowledged that the State Department would be represented in the Vice President’s party.
Meanwhile, a high State Department source strongly urged that the media steer away from suggesting the U.S. is prepared to provide its own proposals for bringing Egypt and Israel to the conference table. He said the U.S. might supply “some ideas.” The source acknowledged that top Department officials had said the “clarification” it had received from Israel on its responses was “useful and helpful” but he pointed out this expression did not mean the response met U.S. expectations but referred only to the nature of the clarification.