JERUSALEM (Jun. 18)
The minimal participation by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman in the work of the six-man ministerial team engaged in autonomy negotiations with Egypt and the U.S. has irritated the delegations chaiman, Interior Minister Yosef Burg and will be taken up by the full cabinet at its next session.
the Cabinet’s intervention was promised Burg by Premier Merachem Begin after Weizman walked out of a meeting of the unit yesterday that was chaired by Begin Weizman has publicly expressed the view that the Israeli negotiating team is much too large. He said two-to-three ministers could conduct the negotiations for Israel and that he saw no need for his own presence at the sessions “There is nothing wrong if the Defense Minister will not be a member of the team,” he told Maariv in an interview published today. But he promised that his ministry would assist the negotiators whenever necessary.
Weizman asked to be excused from yesterday’s meeting. Begin told him “Only the Cabinet which appointed you to this committee can release you of the duty” Weizman said he did not want to attend that specific meeting to which Begin replied “Sure you can go, we won’t keep you here by force, will we?” Weizman left but has not resigned from the negotiating team.
Dayan has also publicly expressed his desire to stay out of the autonomy talks on grounds that his presence is not necessary Maariv suggested today that the Foreign Minister would like to replace Burg, a member of the National Religious Party, as chairman. Dayan has denied this but according to Maariv associates of Dayan believe that he should head the unit not only because he is Foreign Minister but because he is the only member capable of conducting the negotiations with the necessary flexibility to avoid a crisis.
The first working session, held in Alexandria a week ago, produced no substantive progress. The talks will be resumed in Herzliya later this month possibly on June 25.
Begin, meanwhile, is reportedly firm in his support for Burg but insists that Weizman and Dayan participate fully in the talks. Burg demanded an early decision in the controversy. He reportedly complained that Dayan and Weizman are openly critical of the way the talks are being conducted and said he could not accept this (By David-Landeu)