JERUSALEM (May. 7)
The heads of the three delegations to the latest round of autonomy talks said today that “some progress” was made, but they all agreed that is was for from satisfactory. Israel’s Interior Minister Yosef Burg, head of the Israeli delegation, said at a press conference concluding this round of talks, that a deadlock was averted.
Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil, head of the Egyptian delegation, noted that at least it was agreed to discuss security problems in the territories. Khalil saw another advantage–the fact that all working teams and committees would work simultaneously with the top level ministerial committees.
Saying that progress was made, U.S. special Ambassador Sol Linowitz said all parties shared the disappointment that the progress was not greater. He said he talked yesterday with President Carter who, in the words of Linowitz, was not satisfied with the achievements. However, Linowitz said one should move forward with patience.
The delegations agreed that a team of ministers would meet in Giza, Egypt to discuss the issue of security next week. At the same time, working groups dealing with other aspects of autonomy will meet continuously. The decision to set up a ministerial team on security appeared to be the major outcome of the round of negotiations just ended, since the question of how to tackle this sensitive issue seemed to threaten the entire talks.
However, the agreement is purely one of procedure. The Israelis will continue to insist that the issue of overall responsibility for autonomy must be settled first.
Burg quoted a statement by Premier Menachem Begin last night that Israel should maintain control over the security on the West Bank. “Premier Begin surely stated not only his point of view,” Burg said. Khalil said in this connection that Egypt never agreed to negotiate “under any preconditions.”
He declared that “Mr. Begin is free to say whatever he would like to. The Israeli government is free to state its position the way it would like to. But we think that this position is contrary to the Camp David accord. “Khalil was due to return to Egypt today to report to President Anwar Sadat on the outcome of the talks.