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Israel Puts Its Foot Down on the Issue of Linkage-timetable

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The Israeli government appeared today to have foreclosed any further compromise on the issue of a linkage-timetable in its treaty negotiations with Egypt and has asked the United States, in effect, to stop trying to influence the Egyptian government to accept the compromise Israel has rejected.

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan made this request to Washington, it was learned today, with the full backing of Premier Menachem Begin. The U.S. is believed to have proposed a “side letter” to accompany an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty that would commit both countries to negotiate continuously and in good faith with the objective of holding elections for autonomous councils on the West Bank and Gaza Strip by the end of 1979.

Dayan has stated that the idea of a prefixed date for elections posed a “serious danger” for Israel. He said he would oppose this even if the period for negotiations was extended from one year to two.

Dayan contends that the negotiations and implementation of the autonomy scheme provided in the Camp David framework must proceed of their own accord without being tied to a specific date or other agreements.

EGYPT’S PRIME MINSTER TO MEET WITH CARTER

Meanwhile, U.S. officials said in Washington today that President Carter will meet with Egyptian Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil in the next few days, most likely on Friday, to discuss Egypt’s response to the American compromise plan and the latest thinking in Cairo on the Middle East peace talks generally. The officials said the meeting was being arranged at Egypt’s request.

According to the influential Cairo newspaper, Al-Gomhouria, the message Khalil is bringing from Sadat sets out Egypt’s final attitude on the peace negotiations with Israel. The paper said that the message will deal with the issue of linkage in terms that will be “specific, clear and not subject to interpretation.” It will also contain Egypt’s “remarks” on some clauses of the treaty draft, especially with “Egypt’s Arab commitments and the legal right to defense.”

President Anwar Sadat said yesterday that he would send Carter a formal explanation this week of Egypt’s position on the peace talks. Top level Egyptian officials are drawing up a working paper on that subject. Egypt’s response to Israel’s acceptance of the draft peace treaty was expected to reach Jerusalem tonight and Begin will have to decide in the next 24 hours whether to convene a special Cabinet meeting to discuss it.

CABINET WILL NOT REVIEW DISPUTE

Well informed sources here said that the Cabinet will not convene as long as the Egyptians do not support the draft treaty as is. They reaffirmed that the Cabinet will not review the dispute with Egypt and the U.S. over the linkage-time table or send Israel’s negotiating team back to Washington until the Egyptians are prepared to accept the treaty draft with no additions or alterations. The sources reiterated that once the treaty is signed, Israel would address the problem of negotiating over the West Bank-Gaza Strip autonomy scheme. They indicated that Begin is willing to start the negotiations within a few weeks after the treaty is signed. Israel is standing on the letter of the Camp David frameworks which contain no linkage between the treaty and other issues. It rejects out of hand Egypt’s demand for a timetable or for an Egyptian administrative presence in the Gaza Strip to deal with autonomy there.

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