WASHINGTON (Jul. 2)
The chief negotiators of the United States, Egypt and Israel dealing with autonomy arrangements for the West Bank and Gaza opened their discussions here this morning in a downtown hotel but declined to discuss what transpired.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, Israeli Interior Minister Yosef Burg and U.S. special Ambassador Sol Linowitz, met behind closed doors by themselves to find a way of resuming the talks that were broken off by Egypt last month. U.S. sources said the talks would continue probably through tomorrow afternoon and possibly into the holiday weekend. It was possible that the negotiators would meet with President Carter at the White House later today Burg said yesterday that he was going into the negotiations “without preconditions” and made it clear the Israeli government continues to have faith in the Camp David process in the effort to obtain a Middle East peace.
Burg also said “The U.S. position regarding Jerusalem is not exactly what we would like to hear” but “we won’t discuss it” in his talks with Ali and Linowitz, Burg was referring to the U.S. abstention on the resolution in the UN Security Council demanding Israel abandon East Jerusalem.
STATE DEPT. REFUSES TO EXPLAIN JERUSALEM REMARK
Burg characterized the UN action as “a European initiative” stemming from the Western European Economic Community’s (EEC) “declaration of Venice.” He added “Egypt is not angry about such decisions.” But, he pointed out, “It cannot change my mind, our history.”
At the State Department today, chief spokesman John Trattner, was asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to offer an explanation of why he said yesterday that Jerusalem is not an undivided city and that there is not free access to the holy places there. “I am not going to give a readout,” he said. He replied, “I am afraid not” when asked for a statement. However, he did say that “free access depends on who you are talking to” and that the “final states” of Jerusalem “is subject to negotiation.”
Trattner was asked the question in light of the statements made by President Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale that Jerusalem is an undivided city. It is assumed here that the State Department refuses to say publicly what the White House is saying because of the repercussions that might ensue from Arab governments.