JERUSALEM (Jun. 22)
President Anwar Sodat of Egypt strongly repudiated the Palestine’ Liberation Organization today and revived his proposal that autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs should be implemented in the Gaza Strip first before it is applied to the West Bank.
In an interview on Israeli television, Sodat said he has instructed Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali to raise the Gaza-first proposal when the autonomy talks resume. Ali, interior Minister Yosef Burg-who is Israel’s chief negotiator on autonomy–and U.S. special Ambassador Sal Linowitz are scheduled to meet in Washington early next month to set a date for resuming the talks.
Sadat also said that he would have liked to invite Premier Menachem Begin to Cairo to address the Egyptian Peoples Council (parliament) but refrained from doing so in order to protect the popularity Begin still has among the Egyptian people. “I am afraid that if Begin comes to Cairo and speaks before the Peoples Council, he would say the same things he said in Jerusalem on autonomy and the establishment of new settlements. With such talk he would lose whatever he has achieved so far with the Egyptian people,” Sodat told the Israeli TV audience.
He said that for a time he entertained the idea of re-visiting Jerusalem to address the Knesset on the Palestinian problem. He implied that he dropped the idea after it go a cold reception in Israel.
NO LONGER RECOGNIZES PLO’S STATUS
Sadat said he no longer supports the position of the other Arab states acknowledging the PLO as “the sale legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” In light of the PLO’s conduct, he no longer recognizes it as such, he said. “I maintain reservations over its status.” Sodat was referring to the 1974 Arab summit meeting at Rabat, Morocco, where the Arab states, with Egypt’s backing, conferred representative status on the PLO.
He denied that he has been in consultation with the PLO on autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip but acknowledged that several PLO representatives did approach former Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil. “It is they who contacted us. We did not contact any party. In the light of my experience with (PLO chief) Yasir Arafat, I relate no importance to such contacts,” he said. Israel recently accused Egypt of having briefed the PLO on the progress of the autonomy negotiations.
The Egyptian leader said that if he were Begin he would have ordered a unilateral Israeli pull-out from the West Bank and Gaza and thereby challenge the Palestinians with self-rule. After three years, it would be up to the Palestinians to determine their own future, he said. He warned Israel that it was now facing the choice between a conflict with the entire world over the Palestinian issue and a constructive approach of coming to grips with the emergence of an independent Palestinian entity–taking into account the necessary security guarantees for Israel.