JERUSALEM (Jan. 30)
U.S. Special Ambassador Sol Linowitz emerged from a private meeting with Premier Menachem Begin this morning exuding optimism over the prospects for success in the autonomy negotiations. I had a very rewarding and very thorough conversation with the Premier” and “I believe that as a result of this discussion, we can look forward to progress,” the American envoy said. “Now we are embarked on a course that we both feel will lead to the successful result we have been searching for,” he told reporters.
Linowitz reportedly raised with Begin the same “new American ideas” that he presented to President Anwar Sodat in Cairo last weekend aimed at breaking the Israeli-Egyptian deadlock an the autonomy talks. There has been no hint as to what these ideas consist of but Linowitz said today that they “offered some promising approaches to the negotiations.”
REPORT PLO MAY JOIN AUTONOMY TALKS
In another development, Mayor Rashod A-Shawa of Gaza told Kol Israel Radio today that the Palestine Liberation Organization may enter the autonomy negotiations if Israel recognized Palestinian rights. A-Showa also said that he intends to meet with Linowiz and that when he informed PLO leaders of this they did not object. A-Shawa is the only mayor from the administered territories who has agreed to meet with the American diplomat who is President Carter’s personal representative in the autonomy negotiations. Their meeting was set for later today.
All the others, including Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem, regarded as the most moderate, have refused to see Linowitz because, they say, they totally reject the autonomy scheme.
A-Shawa’s report that the PLO might join the talks under certain conditions took on some significance in view of the reported new American ideas and the fact that the next round of autonomy negotiations will be held tomorrow and Friday in Herzliya. The Gaza Mayor just returned from a visit to several Arab countries during which he met with PLO chief Yasir Arafat. He stressed that the PLO’s condition that Israel recognize Palestinian rights means that the autonomy plan “will definitely be self-determination and the establishment of our sovereign Palestine state.”
He said he was not breaking ranks with the other Arab mayors. “It’s a difference in tactics, perhaps. They refuse what I am refusing and they accept what I accept,” he said, A-Shawa rejected the idea of implementing autonomy in the Gaza Strip before it is applied to the West Bank.
That proposal, by Sadat, was coolly received by the Israelis. Begin has stressed that even if Israel agreed to the idea, it would be exercised only after a general agreement on autonomy is reached. A-Shawa said “We insist on linking Gaza with the West Bank. Anything that happens in Gaza must happen simultaneously on the West Bank,” he said.