Burg Foresees Break Through in Autonomy Talks by May 26

Interior Minister Yosef Burg, Israel’s chief negotiator in the autonomy talks, predicted today that a break-through will be achieved by the target date of May 26, at least on some of the substantive issues that have been unresolved until now.

Appearing on the Israeli Broadcasting Service’s Arab Hour program, Burg said that the momentum of the autonomy talks will pick up after Passover when four separate working groups will apply themselves to the task of finding a common ground. According to Burg, on achievement of significant importance could be reached by May 26 on election procedures and the structure of the self-governing administrative council for the West Bank and Goza Strip.

He conceded, however, that he saw no possibility of progress on the major issue: the scope of the administrative council’s authority, security and the question of East Jerusalem: But he said he opposed a freeze on settlements for the duration of the autonomy talks which has been proposed by the U.S.

BEGIN TO STAND PAT ON AUTONOMY

Meanwhile, Israeli officials made it clear today that Premier Menachem Begin has no intention of changing Israel’s basic position on autonomy when he meets with President Carter in Washington later this month, despite mounting international pressure.

The officials were apparently reacting to the statement by U.S. special Ambassador Sal Linowitz that unless Israel is more malleable and there is substantial progress by May 26, the U.S. would not be able to prevent its from going ahead with their initiative to alter UN Security Council Resolution 242. The EEC countries are expected to press for an amendment that would change the status of the Palestinians from refugees to that of a political entity.

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