JERUSALEM (May. 8)
U.S. special Mideast Ambassador Sol Linowitz spent 90 minutes with Premier Menachem Begin here this morning to review the week’s autonomy negotiations — and what Linowitz himself called the “disappointing” progress achieved. But Israeli sources insisted that the envoy had not applied pressure on Begin. They said the conversation was informative.
Begin, for his part, reiterated the Israeli position on the key issue of security. The Israeli sources pointed out that this position expressed publicly by Israel this week, was consistent with what the Premier had told President Carter at their meeting in Washington last month. In a speech here Tuesday night at the opening session of the Liberal Party convention, Begin warned somberly that unless Egypt recognized the principle that Israel must remain in control of security in the autonomous areas there would be no agreement.
Linowitz flew from Israel to Ismailia, on the Suez Canal today, where he conferred with President Anwar Sodat before flying home to Washington to report to President Carter.
All three parties are now apparently trying to produce a document of series of documents by the May 26 target date that will express whatever has been agreed in the talks in the most favorable light possible. There is now virtually no hope that a full autonomy agreement can be achieved within the time available before the target date. The intention is to dress up the areas of agreement so as to preserve the credibility of the negotiations and the momentum to keep the talks alive.
Sodat was reported to have complained today to Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman about the slow, dragging pace of the autonomy talks. Weizman flew to Egypt for 24 hours to wrap up the normalization accords — seven have been signed and await ratification — before handing back responsibility for normalization to the Foreign Ministry.
After the meeting, Weizman professed satisfaction with its outcome. But he could not report any new ideas from the Egyptian leader on how to speed up the autonomy talks or overcome the security hurdle.