JERUSALEM (Mar. 18)
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said today that he intended to take an active part in the autonomy negotiations with Egypt and the U.S. He also said that May 26 is not the final date for completion of the talks but merely a desired date.
Shamir’s remarks echoed those of Premiere Menachem Begin who stressed in a speech in Maalot yesterday that the May 26 target date set in the Camp David accords was not a deadline , Begin noted that it had taken six months rather than the targeted three, to negotiate the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and similarly the autonomy talks could proceed for as long as it takes to reach agreement.
These comments by Shamir and Begin appeared intended to prepare the public for the all but certain prospect that the autonomy talks will not be completed by May 26. Reports from Washington indicated that the U.S. also realizes that the chance for a successful conclusion by that date is exceedingly slim.
LINOWITZ DUE IN ISRAEL SATURDAY
Nevertheless, the U.S., is urging Israel to make the most of the time available until May 26. Special Ambassador Sol Linowitz. due here Saturday, is expected to make that point, It is not known how long Linowitz will remain in Israel or what his precise schedule will be .
Interior Minister Yosef Burg, Israel’s chief negotiator in the autonomy talks. told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee today that neither Egypt for the US, objected to his proposal to speed up the negotiations, Burg suggested over the weekend that the top level autonomy team meet on a weekly basis instead of about once a month as has been the case until now.
Burg made his proposal in response to Egyptian charges that Israel was responsible for the slow peace of the autonomy talks. The chief Egyptian negotiator, Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil, was quoted by the Cairo newspaper, AL-Gumhuriya, yesterday as, saying that while Egypt is not opposed to speeding up the negotiating process, “the good intentions are much more important than the frequency and the length of the autonomy sessions.”