JERUSALEM (Jun. 29)
Interior Minister Yosef Burg, Israel’s chief negotiator in the autonomy talks, left for Washington today for a series of meetings aimed at re-starting the negotiations which were suspended by President Anwar Sodat on May 15.
He is to meet with Egypt’s principal negotiator, Foreign Minster Kamal Hassan Ali and U.S. special Ambassador Sol Linowitz Wednesday and Thursday in what has been described as an attempt to reach agreement on a date for resuming the stalled talks. Burg and Ali are also expected to meet with Secretary of State Edmund Muskie and possibly with President Carter:
Burg, who departed with the good wishes of Premier Menachem Begin and the Cabinet, was disturbed by what he claimed was a pre-talks “atmosphere” engendered by Egypt to put Israel “on the defensive.” He attributed this to a leak to the Israeli media last week of what he said was on uncrystallized Israeli plan for security arrangements on the West Bank after autonomy was implemented. The plan drew negative reactions from Cairo and Washington. Burg denounced the leak and said those responsible should be punished.
The initial Egyptian response, voiced by Ali Friday was that the reported Israeli plan was a “contradiction to Camp David.” But after consultations with Sodat, the Egyptian Foreign Minister told reporters yesterday that Egypt would “wait and see” if there was a change in the Israeli attitude.
SECURITY PLAN OUTLINED
The leaked plan calls for Israeli forces to withdraw from towns and other Arab populated areas of the West Bank but to remain close by to intervene in case of disorders. The army would continue to be deployed along all strategic roads and junctions. It would occupy the Jordan Valley and high ground in the Samaria district. Its movements would be entirely free and at the sole discretion of Israel with no reference to the Arab self-governing authority.
Jewish settlements on the West Bank would be linked together by Israeli armed forces and Israel would continue to control the air space over the territory. There would be an overall reduction of Israel’s armed forces on the West Bank as stipulated by the Camp David agreements.
In a radio interview Friday, Burg described the purpose of his mission to Washington as “rethreading the needle after the cotton has broken. “He stressed that he was not authorized to enter into any substantive negotiations during his trip.
In an interview published in Hoaretz today, Burg said he did not know what proposals the other side would want to raise when the talks are resumed and therefore he would adopt a flexible approach. His main assignment, he said, was to fix a date for a formal resumption of the autonomy negotiations, to work out a timetable and to determine which issues were to be discussed and at what levels of committees and subcommittees.