WASHINGTON (Sep. 21)
The White House said today that “the apparent differences” between President Carter and Premier Menachem Begin of Israel on the issue of West Bank settlements “will be resolved satisfactorily” and that meanwhile the “best posture” is to “leave it” without “public discourse.”
Presidential Press Secretary Jody Powell declined to characterize the “differences” between Carter and Begin in response to a question as to whether they were, as a White House spokesman said yesterday, “a small flow in a large rug,” or a major problem that could, in the opinion of some, tear apart the frameworks for peace agreed to at Camp David. Powell said “I don’t intend to answer it at this point.”
Powell said that “if there is a difference of opinion it is unlikely to be resolved in public discourse on the matter.” He also took note of the fact that Begin was reported in the media as saying that he would consult with the other members of the Israeli delegation to Camp David when he returns to Israel to refresh his memory on the settlements issue.
Asked if Carter was unhappy with Begin’s public statements, Powell said the President “wants to be constructive” and that “I won’t be critical” of Begin. He said that “the primary responsibility” for untangling the knot between Begin and Carter was in the hands of Harold Saunders, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
Powell said he was “not aware of any major internal disagreements” on other subjects included in letters between the U.S., Israel and Egypt which are to supplement the two Camp David accords. He indicated that some of the letters will be made public tomorrow but not those dealing with the settlements. The other subjects include the two military air bases the U.S. has pledged to build for Israel and the future of Jerusalem.