WASHINGTON (Jun. 22)
President Carter praised Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s recent remarks on the Middle East political process as “very constructive and moderate” while criticism of the Israeli government’s position was being voiced in high Administration circles and by one of Israel’s staunchest supporters, Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R.NY), on the Senate floor today.
These developments coincided with reports that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was seeking a formal proposal from Sadat for settling the issues over the West Bank and Gaza Strip and return to the negotiating table with Israel. The Israeli Cabinet stated Sunday that determination of the future of those areas must await the expiration of the five-year self-rule plan proposed by Premier Menachem Begin.
“I thought his (Sadat’s) statement within the last few days was very constructive and moderate, “Carter told Sayed Marei, Speaker of the Egyptian Peoples Assembly (Parliament) who paid a courtesy call on the White House this morning. “We appreciate his willingness to continue the peace process,” the President said. Following the Begin government’s decision Sunday, Sadat said that “all threads” were not cut off for resumption of the stalled Egyptian-Israeli peace talks. He also said that “we are not prepared to surrender one square centimeter of Arab land, not just Egyptian land.”
‘ISRAEL FACES A REAL DANGER,’ JAVITS WARNS
In a Senate floor speech today, Javits said that “the United States was correct in its expectations of a more positive reply from Israel respecting questions about the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Israeli statement leaves up in the air the crucial question of Egypt-Israel or Arab-Israel negotiations concerning the permanent status of the areas,” Javits said. “I believe that Israel faces a real danger now if it fails to come forward with a more precise statement of its views as to the permanent status of the West Bank and Gaza. The danger is that the U.S. may well come forward with its own peace plan” and if it does, this would be “a negative development in terms of Israel’s constant and proper insistence on achieving peace through face-to-face Arab-Israeli negotiations,” Javits said.
Turning to the Egyptian position, the New York Republican said “The absence of a formal Egyptian counter-proposal to the peace proposals table by Prime Minister Begin at Ismailia last December also has been a vital factor contributing to the loss of momentum in Egyptian-Israeli negotiations following President Sadat’s historic visit to Jerusalem in November, 1977.”
Meanwhile, the State Department sidestepped reports that the Carter Administration has decided to ask Egypt to offer a formal proposal on the future of the West Bank and Gaza because Israel is “inflexible.” Vance was said to have told members of Congress last night that because Israel has shown no flexibility in its latest responses on the U.S. moves for resumption of talks, the Carter Administration would ask Sadat to present a counter-proposal to the one Begin offered at Ismailia. Officially the State Department has not said Israel is “inflexible,” but that it has not “fully” responded to U.S. questions on the area’s future.
When asked about the report on shifting the focus on Egypt, State Department spokesman Hodding Carter said he had “no answer” to give. “That’s why we are in the discussion stage,” he said. The spokesman continued to emphasize that “we are consulting both with Egypt and Israel.” Asked to supply a distinction between the U.S. and Egyptian positions, the spokesman said that he would not supply a “textual analysis point-by-point.” He observed, however, that the U.S. has not changed its position on UN Resolution 242. In the past, the U.S. has said that it favors Israel’s withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 war except for “minor” adjustments in borders. These adjustments have never been defined.