JERUSALEM (Jan. 1)
Top U.S. officials complained to Israel Defense Minister Ezer Weizman this weekend about Israel’s West Bank settlement policy and about the, lack of progress in the autonomy talks. This was revealed here today after Weizman reported on his trip to Premier Menachem Begin.
Weizman is under criticism from some quarters here for having in effect failed to persuade the U.S. to raise its aid level to Israel. But he says the attempt was virtually doomed in advance since the Administration has its own real budgetary problems and is cutting on foreign aid to other countries.
According to a leaked report an Israel Radio Defense Secretary Harold Brown raised the settlements issue with Weizman, arguing that by its policy in this area Israel was damaging its own image — and making it hard for the U.S. Administration to grant it aid. The settlements tended to overshadow the very real concessions that Israel had been making during the peace process, drown contended.
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance raised the autonomy talks question, pointing out that there had not been much progress to date. According to some reports, Vance asked the moderate Weizman to involve himself actively in these negotiations. (Weizman is nominally a member of the Israeli negotiating team, but has not attended the talks so far.) Weizman said publicly yesterday on his return, that he would join the autonomy talks “at a suitable time, when I can contribute.”
President Carter himself told Weizman, according to reports today, that despite his many pressing problems he would be ready to devote his own time and effort again to advancing Mideast peace efforts. Meanwhile, Carter telephoned Begin tonight to wish him success in his meeting next week with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat at Aswan. An official statement here reporting the call said Carter and Begin also discussed the situation in the Middle East.