WASHINGTON (Nov. 16)
Vice President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt presented “new ideas” to President Carter at their 90-minute White House meeting this morning on the linkage issue that has stalled the Israeli-Egyptian peace negotiations here, a U.S. spokesman said today. The immediate reaction here was that the change in Egypt’s position does not signify a crisis or a suspension of the peace talks.
George Sherman, official spokesman for the Israeli, Egyptian and U.S. delegations at the Blair House conference, said that Mubarak “explained precisely the Egyptian view of the interrelationship between the West Bank-Gaza negotiations set out in the Camp David general framework and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty now being negotiated.”
Sherman said “The Egyptians have presented new ideas on how to deal with the two Camp David accords.” He stressed, “While I can’t go into the substance of the ideas they are suggested ideas on proposals put forward by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance over the weekend.”
Sherman was referring to Vance’s meeting with Premier Menachem Begin of Israel at Kennedy Airport in New York last Sunday night at which he reportedly proposed that elections should be held on the West Bank and Gaza Strip for local governing councils 12 months after an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty is signed. Contrary to reports that President Anwar Sadat was sending a letter or written proposals to Carter through Mubarak, Sherman disclosed that the Egyptian official gave an oral report to Carter on Sadat’s position.
Immediately after his meeting with Carter, Mubarak met with Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman at the Madison Hotel. Weizman, acting head of the Israeli negotiating team, reportedly received full details of Sadat’s position. He met with Vance later this afternoon at the State Department where, presumably, he received the U.S. analysis of Sadat’s new position. He will, therefore, be returning to Jerusalem with detailed accounts of both the U.S. and Egyptian positions on the new developments. The talks continued, meanwhile, on the military annex to the peace treaty between members of the Israeli and Egyptian delegations.
‘TIMING IS SUBSTANCE’
Sherman was asked if Mubarak’s report to the President called for elections on the Gaza Strip to be held earlier than elections on the West Bank. He replied that “timing is substance” and refused to say whether Sadat had proposed a discussion of elections in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank at different times or at the same time and in what relationship to the timing of the peace treaty signing.
Sherman insisted that “all three sides consider the negotiations are continuing” and that the White House meeting this morning “did not suggest that negotiations be suspended.” He added that “there is no emergency involved.” He pointed out that “some rather alarmist reports” have been spread that the talks are in crisis. He noted that one of them came from Jerusalem, prompted by the fact that Weizman will be returning to Israel.
Sherman said “The Israeli delegation has asked me to state that Minister Weizman is returning to Israel as previously planned to report to the Cabinet on various matters here–not only on the conversation with Mubarak but also the talks held for the last two days on the military annex.”
CARTER FRUSTRATED BY IMPASSE
Earlier today, Carter told a breakfast meeting with White House reporters that if Israel and Egypt do not agree on a peace treaty “our ultimate decision will be that the (Camp David) agreements cannot be abrogated. We will insist that the accords be honored meticulously.”
Carter reportedly said he is disappointed and frustrated by the impasse in the treaty talks and noted that one problem is that “neither side really trusts the other.” He added that “ancient distrusts and disputes continue to rise.” Asked about reports in Israel that he may call another summit meeting with Sadat and Begin, Carter responded by referring to that as being a “dreary prospect” and that he hoped and prayed it would not be necessary.