Burg Says There Must Be No Preconditions for Resuming Autonomy Talks

Interior Minister Yosef Burg, Israel’s chief negotiator in the autonomy talks, said today that Israel is putting no preconditions on their resumption and expects Egypt to act likewise. The negotiations were suspended by President Anwar Sadat on May 15.

Burg spoke to reporters after a brief meeting of the Ministerial Autonomy Committee chaired by Premier Menachem Begin. His reference apparently was to recent Egyptian statements calling for pledges by Israel not to establish new settlements in the occupied territories while the talks are in process and to shelve a bill now before the Knesset which would declare united Jerusalem Israel’s capital under a basic law.

Burg noted that he will be going to Washington early next month to meet with Egypt’s chief negotiator, Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and U.S. special Ambassador Sol Linowitz. He told reporters that the first order of business will be to fix a date for resuming the talks and then determine “which issues” would be tackled by “which groups and at which level.”

He expressed reservations over Sadat’s proposal that autonomy be applied to the Gaza Strip first, before it is implemented on the West Bank. According to Burg. “To focus on ‘Gaza first’ at this moment” would be “harmful” because it would separate the Gaza issue from the “Camp David entity” as a whole.

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