Linowitz in Israel Meets with Autonomy Committee and Describes Talks As Fruitful, Beneficial

Sol Linowitz, President Carter’s Special Ambassador to the Middle East, had his first meeting here today with the Israeli negotiating team in the autonomy talks with Egypt. He met privately with Interior Minister Yosef Burg, chairman of the Israeli delegation, and later with the full ministerial autonomy committee, Emerging from his session with Burg, Linowitz said they had “a good fruitful and beneficial exchange of views.”

The discussions reportedly focused on the progress made in the autonomy talks to date and the issues still to be resolved. Linowitz will participate in the next plenary session of the Israeli and Egyptian negotiators at Herzliya. The session originally scheduled to begin tomorrow, was postponed, at Egypt’s request, until Dec. 17. Linowitz will leave Israel as planned on Thursday but will return next week for the Herzliya talks.

Linowitz arrived here last night from Cairo where he met with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt. He said at Ben Gurion Airport that the U.S. commitment to the security of Israel has never been stronger. But he refused to discuss the impending U.S. -Egyptian arms deal, saying he had no information on the subject.

BEGIN, SADAT TO MEET JAN. 7 IN ASWAN

Shortly after Linowitz arrived, it was announced here and in Cairo that Premier Menachem Begin will pay a three-day visit to Sadat at Aswan beginning Jan. 7, 1980. It will be their ninth meeting since Sadat made his historic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977. The Aswan summit will be held two weeks before the completion of the second phase of Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai.

The new Israeli -Egyptian demarcation line will run from EI Arish on the Mediterranean to Ras Mohammed on the Red Sea. Normalization of relations between the two countries will begin on Jan. 25, 1980. They are scheduled to exchange Ambassadors on Feb. 26, 11 months after the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed.

According to the peace treaty, the autonomy talks are to be completed by May 1, 1980. The Israeli negotiators have felt recently that the Americans were unhappy with the slow pace of the talks so far and wanted to speed them up. Begin instructed the Israeli delegation yesterday to avoid unnecessary conflicts with the Americans. But he stressed that Israel would reject any autonomy plan that could lead to the eventual establishment of a Palestinian state.

Begin’s summit talk with Sadat at Aswan is expected to deal mainly with the autonomy negotiations. Sadat said in Cairo yesterday that he still believed the talks could be concluded successfully by the May 1 deadline.

Linowitz cancelled a planned tour of the West Bank today, saying that since he had been to the area three times on previous visits before undertaking his latest assignment from Carter he would prefer to spend the time discussing the autonomy negotiations with Israeli officials. This apparently angered Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, a member of the ministerial autonomy committee, who said he would not escort the American envoy because he refused to visit Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

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