Israel Appears Satisfied by U.S. Explanation of American Status in Autonomy Negotiations

The “clarifications” between Israel and the U.S. over Washington’s role in the autonomy talks appear to have had a happy outcome. The U.S. reply to Israel’s queries on this issue was transmitted to Premier Menachem. Begin over the weekend. High Israeli sources said Jerusalem was thoroughly satisfied with it.

“The U.S. endorses our position entirely, “one Cabinet source told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency tonight. A .U. S. Embassy spokesman in Tel Aviv said that if Israel saw the U.S. reply as endorsing its own position he was delighted. American sources appear to feel that the American reply, drafted by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, should be acceptable to both Israel and Egypt. Israel’s position has been that the U.S. role should be that of “full participation” or “partners” in the negotiations but not a “party” to the eventual agreement on to its subsequent implementation.

The issue came up during the first working session of the autonomy talks in Alexandria last week. Egypt’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Butros Ghali, seemed to suggest that the U.S. would be a party to the negotiations and also involved closely in the implementation of the eventual agreement. Ghali built his thesis on the phrase “participate fully in all stages of the negotiations” in the “joint letter” that accompanied the peace treaty.

But Israeli negotiators Yosef Burg, Moshe Dayan and Shmuel. Tamir immediately rejected this reading, pointing out that the Camp David fromework implies a role of participation but not of party, for the U.S. What would happen, Day on asked the Egyptians, if Israel and Egypt agreed over some point and the .U.S. as a “party” imposed a “veto?” Dayan demanded that the U.S. clarify its position before the talks proceed further.

Later this week officials of the three delegations are due to meet in Herzliya to work on the agenda for the talks. The next plenary session has been tentatively set for June 25,also at Herzliya.

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