JERUSALEM (May. 15)
Premier Menachem Begin said today that there was no justification for the Egyptian postponement of the autonomy talks. He described the move as an “extreme turn-about in the Egyptian policy.” He said that the Egyptians were merely using the announcement yesterday in Jerusalem that the Knesset had approved a bill declaring united Jerusalem the capital of Israel as an excuse for postponing the talks.
“There was nothing new in this resolution,” said Begin. “I myself read a similar statement in the ears of President Sadat when I visited Alexandria last July.” Begin added that the autonomy negotiations should continue, but this depends on the positive attitude of all participants. He will meet tomorrow with U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis to discuss, among other things, the present crisis in the autonomy talks.
Interior Minister Yosef Burg, who heads the Israeli committee to the autonomy talks, described the Egyptian on-again-off-again position on the talks as “strange.” He added that “this is a sign of instability” and wondered whether it was connected with internal problems or merely a way of exerting pressure on Israel.