WASHINGTON (Jun. 9)
Secretary of State Edmund Muskie in two public discussions on successive days of the Arab-Israeli situation, insisted that the United States will maintain the Camp David formula as a basis for peace. But he seemed to relax somewhat toward the West European initiative for a new platform while exerting additional pressure on Israel to accommodate progress toward a settlement.
Both in his full dress review before the Washington Press Club today and in a nationwide television appearance yesterday, Muskie dwelt on the violence on the West Bank and on the meeting in Venice beginning Wednesday of the nine-nation European Economic Community (EEC) that intends to proclaim a new Mideast initiative with greater participation in the negotiations by Palestinian Arabs, which could open the way for the Palestine Liberation Organization to enter the talks.
Muskie’s appearance come after President Carter wrote to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who broke off the talks last month on autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Carter proposed that Egypt’s and Israel’s top negotiators come to Washington for a new round of talks with U.S. special Ambassador Sol Linowitz. It is understood here that both Egypt and Israel have agreed to the President’s suggestion. Muskie said today that no date has been set.
“We must not let it fail,” Muskie said today in upholding the Camp David agreements. That its goal of May 26 has not been met “is a disappointment,” he said, “but it is no cause for despair and it is no cause to abandon the process which has achieved so much.” He said that the autonomy talks will be continued “solidly based on (United Nations Security Council) Resolution 242 and the Camp David framework. It would be a mistake to change either of these essential building blocks. Indeed, the U.S. will not allow that to happen.”
U.S. DOES ‘NOT OBJECT TO NEW INITIATIVES’
However, he added, with reference to the European meeting, “We do not object to new initiatives to the Camp David process.” He said, in response to a question, that “it is not yet determined what European initiatives might be taken.” He said the U.S. has not been consulting with the Europeans, adding “that in itself would undermine the Camp David process.” It is reported here that the European initiative would be placed before the UN General Assembly where the U.S. would not have a veto and in this way bring about pressure on the U.S. to meet, in some way, the European proposals.
Muskie appeared to equate the massacre at Hebron May. 2 and the violence against West Bank mayors a month later, although the PLO claimed responsibility for the Hebron killings while the Israeli government has deplored the bombings and is seeking the culprits. “I find revolting both the recent attack on Israeli citizens in Hebron and the maiming of two West Bank mayors last week,” Muskie said. “Again and again alternating explosions of inhumanity remind us of the agonizing difficulties.”
CALLS SETTLEMENT PROGRAM ‘DISRUPTIVE’
Strongly criticizing the establishment of Israeli settlements, Muskie described Israeli Premier Menachem Begin’s proposal for 10 new settlements as “illegal” and “disruptive in terms of proceeding with the negotiations which are underway. We’ve made that point over and over again.”
The Secretary of State listed five issues that remained in the autonomy talks. He mentioned six without fully identifying them two weeks ago, but in neither list did he mention the future of Jerusalem. About Jerusalem, he said today, in response to a question whether the U.S. has made a specific proposal to remove the legislation annexing East Jerusalem, that “we have made all sorts” of proposals. “You are not going to wipe out” the issue of Jerusalem sovereignty. “You have got to go around it for the present.”
Listing the five items, Muskie said “first and most critical is security. Israel must be secure but to be durable any agreement must also enable the people in the West Bank and Gaza to help provide for their security. The Israel Defense Force must be able to protect Israel from external attack whether by conventional armed forces or by terrorist groups. At the same time, the ‘strong local police force’ under the self-governing authority called for at Camp David, must be able to assume its fair share of the burden for internal security and public order.”