WASHINGTON (Aug. 20)
Special Middle East Ambassador Robert Strauss was reported by the Carter Administration today as having agreed to obtain Israeli and Egyptian approval of a United States-sponsored resolution in the United Nations Security Council on “Palestinian rights” to induce Palestinian Arabs to join the peace process.
Strauss aides said yesterday in Jerusalem that the envoy was not enthusiastic about the proposal and had opposed it within the Administration. At the State Department today, however, a spokesman, Thomas Reston, said that a Presidential review committee meeting at which Strauss was present, the decision taken to go ahead with the proposal was “unanimous.”
Reston said that Strauss, who is due back in Washington tonight, would “review” with President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance that aspect of U.S. policy dealing with “what he (Strauss) found out there.” Reston could not provide a date for the review. The President is cruising the Mississippi River and Vance is on vacation. Nevertheless, Reston noted, a discussion would be arranged.
Both Israel and Egypt rejected the proposed U.S. resolution. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was quoted by an American official as saying it was “stupid.” The Israeli Cabinet said yesterday it “unreservedly rejects” the proposal since it contradicts earlier U.S. positions.
Asked whether the U.S. has now dropped the resolution, Reston pointed out that he said only last Friday that the U.S. “may” introduce such a resolution. He contended that such a resolution would be “fully consistent” with Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and the Camp David accords. But he would not explain why the resolution was necessary.
YOUNG TO SERVE-‘UNDER RESTRAINTS’
Meanwhile, Carter said last night that resigned UN Ambassador Andrew Young would be serving “under restraints” in the time he remains in office. The President’s comments followed Young’s statements yesterday on television that the U.S. policy of not speaking to the Palestine Liberation Organization is “ridiculous,” and that Israel’s government is “stubborn” and “intransigent,” while referring to the PLO as a “legitimate power.”
Reston, meanwhile, seemed to contradict Young’s assertion over the weekend that the State Department knew on July 30 of his July 26 meeting with Zehadi Labib Terzi, the PLO observer at the UN. Young said he has “seen such a report” and said it had a “very detailed, almost verbatim account” of the July 26 meeting.
But Reston said the State Department had no such “report” or “account.” He said that prior to Aug. II, there was no account available in the Department of the Young-Terzi meeting. However, he noted, that on July 30 the Department had information that a suggestion had been made for Young to meet with Terzi but it was not agreed upon. Reston refused to identify the origin of the “suggestion” for the meeting contained in the July 30 report.
“I can’t give you a list of names who knew about the July 30 report,” Reston said, but he explicitly ruled out Vance, Deputy Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Assistant Secretary of State Harold Saunders. He said the State Department checked with the office of the director of Central Intelligence, which controls all of the government’s intelligence activities, and that office is prepared to stand by the State Department statement that it did not know of the Young-Terzi meeting before Aug. 11. Asked whether Israeli intelligence had monitored the Young-Terzi meeting, Reston said that the U.S. government has no information to confirm that.
Meanwhile, the Congressional Black Caucus cancelled at the last minute a scheduled news conference today to discuss the Young case and U.S. Mideast policy A spokesman, Barbara Williams, said that the postponement was caused by the lack of a quorum of the 17-member caucus. Ms. Williams said an emergency meeting of the caucus will be held in the coming weeks to decide on making a policy statement.