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U.S. Action in UN Derbate on Palestinian Rights Still Uncertain

Premier Menachem Begin said here today that it was still to early to tell what the United States would do in the United Nations Security Council when and if the debate on Palestinian rights resumes there Thursday. Begin spoke to the Likud Knesset caucus at his office this morning after holding what was described as tough talks with President Carter’s special Mideast envoy Robert Strauss in which he transmitted the Israel government’s “unreserved rejection” of any new Security Council resolution what would supplement or amend Resolution 242.

There were unconfirmed reports that there might be a move to have the Security Council debate postponed until next month when Zambia’s delegate takes over as Council President. Andrew Young, who resigned last Wednesday as U.S. Ambassador to the UN is this month’s Council President and, as such, would preside during the resumption of the debate.

Strauss said before leaving Israel this morning to return to Washington that he had been surprised to see Israeli newspapers reporting that he would recommend to Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance that the U.S. drop its proposal for a new resolution at the Council. The new resolution reportedly would incorporate key statements of the past on Palestinian rights and the general language on the issue similar to that agreed upon in the Camp David peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.

Strauss said he had not yet formulated his, recommendation. He stressed that he did not tell Begin that he could persuade the Carter Administration to abandon the idea of having a new U.S. resolution introduced in the Security Council.

THE PROBLEM THE U.S. FACES

The United States faces a problem of either vetoing a Kuwaiti-sponsored resolution on Palestinian rights, and there by incurring the wrath of Arab states, or introducing its own resolution and incurring the wrath of Israel. Israel insists that using the language from the Camp David accord in a Security Council resolution on Palestinian rights would be out of context and therefore selective and a misinterpretation of what had been agreed upon at Camp David. Israel also contends that for the U.S. to support or acquiesce in any new resolution would contravene its commitments given to Israel in 1975 at the time of the second Sinai agreement with Egypt and reconfirmed last March at the time of the peace treaty signing with Egypt. (See separate story for the latest working paper on the draft resolution.)

Strauss announced after meeting with Begin last night that he would faithfully convey the “serious questions and reservations” aired by both Israel and Egypt to Carter and Vance. (See related story P.2.)

The special envoy did not hide his surprise to find that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, as well as Begin, was entirely unenthusiastic about the projected new U.S. draft. Sadat apparently fears the effect of such a draft upon his evolving peace process with Israel. He is plainly aware of the voices that have already been raised in the Israeli Cabinet recommending that Israel cease its gradual pullback from Sinai as a reaction to the planned new Security Council resolution.

Israeli analysts believe Sadat’s reluctant approach towards the proposed American initiative stems, too, from his feeling that a new Council resolution would be seen as a triumph for the Arab rejectionists and that American involvement in the drafting of such a resolution would be interpreted as a sign of U.S. pandering to the rejectionists.

One prediction in political circles here is that the U.S., in light of Israel’s and Egypt’s objections to its proposed initiative, will back down and not present its own resolution. But political circles also feel that Young will support, or at least not veto, a similarly worded resolution if one is submitted by other delegations.

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