WASHINGTON (Jul. 31)
Israel’s new law establishing united Jerusalem as its capital has “no legal effect” on the U.S. and is “unhelpful” to the current West Bank Gaza autonomy negotiations between Egypt, Israel and the U.S., the State Department said today.
The chief concern of the U.S. about the law, adopted by the Knesset yesterday, is based not on its legality but on the negotiating impact it might have on the tripartite autonomy talks, the State Department said. But it indicated confidence that the talks will continue as planned next week in Alexandria and said that the U.S. chief negotiator, Sol Linowitz, “intends” to be there.
These comments were made by the State Department’s chief spokesman John Trattner in response to questions as reports from Cairo indicated that the Egyptian government might again break off the autonomy talks as it did last May, or delay them indefinitely because of the Jerusalem law.
ALL WANT TALKS TO CONTINUE
“We are aware of all that,” Trattner said. “I’m not in a position to comment.” He emphasized, however, that the law” does not affect the framework of the talks taking place or the agreed intention of all the parties” to achieve a settlement. “All want the talks to go forward,” the State Department spokesman said.
Asked if the Jerusalem law has any “legal effect as far as the U.S. is concerned,” Trattner replied, “We don’t consider that it does. We continue to feel that unilateral acts seeking changes in the status of Jerusalem outside the framework of a negotiated settlement is no way to proceed and we don’t regard it as having on effect.”
Asked to comment specifically on the “political” effects of the law, Trattner said, “If we make a comment we will need to study it very carefully; ” Asked if the law would affect Israel’s negotiators, he replied that he would not speak on their “flexibility,” saying, “We hope that talks will go forward.”
Trattner added, “We are engaged in a peace negotiation. We are at a specific state of that right now. We do not regard that an action by any of the parties which tend, which tries to change the status of Jerusalem unilaterally, outside of the framework of a negotiated settlement is possible. We don’t consider it having an effect.”
Asked, if the law does not have an effect, “why are you concerned?” Trattner said, “Because it is not helpful to the peace process and the autonomy talks.”
EGYPTIAN RESOLUTION RECALLED
A counter point to the Jerusalem law is the measure passed by the Egyptian Parliament on April I declaring East Jerusalem to be the capital of the Palestinian Arabs. The measure adopted by the Knesset yesterday was originally submitted on May 14, six weeks later.
Trattner said he would not “establish what effect” the law would have on the Palestinian Arabs’ attitude but said “We are very hopeful these talks can be more inclusive and be broader-based than they are.” Asked if the law “changes anything on the ground” inasmuch as Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967. Trattner replied, “No, not that I’m aware of. But that again is a question for them (the Israelis) to answer.”
He reiterated Secretary of State Edmund Muskie’s statement that the U.S. has made no decision yet as to whether the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Samuel Lewis, would visit Premier Menachem Begin if the latter goes through with his intention to move the Prime Minister’s Office from West to East Jerusalem. The question of Begin’s office is now expected to be a pivotal point in the discussions between Cairo, Washington and Jerusalem.
ANDERSON BLASTS UN ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION
Meanwhile, independent presidential candidate John Anderson condemned the UN General Assembly’s resolution against Israel. He said yesterday’s vote “marks the further debasement of the UN. The resolution is designed to undermine American diplomacy and the Egyptian-Israel peace treaty. The resolution will not promote peace. It demands withdrawal, but ignores the need for negotiation. It endorses the PLO but does not call for an end to terrorism or for recognition of Israel’s right to exist. I am disturbed that only six other nations joined the United States voting against this resolution. The abstentions by our European allies will only encourage those states which still reject peace with Israel.”