JERUSALEM (Aug. 3)
The Cabinet has scheduled a special meeting for tomorrow to discuss an answer to a special message from Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Premier Menachem Begin. Sadat asked for a postponement of the autonomy talks, which were scheduled to resume in Alexandria, Egypt today, until he receives replies from Begin and President Carter on messages he sent them over the weekend.
The Sadat message, presumably expressing criticism of the bill adopted by the Knesset last week formally incorporating into Israel’s Basic Law united Jerusalem’s status as the capital of Israel, was delivered personally to Begin this afternoon by Egyptian Ambassador Sood Mortoda. There was no disclosure of its contents, except that it was 10 pages long. Sadat’s letter to Carter was given to U.S. Ambassador Alfred Atherton in Cairo.
Emerging from the meeting with Begin, Mortoda said the letter was written in a friendly term. He denied reports that he was being called back to Cairo for “consultations.”
NO RUSH TO RESUME TALKS
At the regular Cabinet meeting earlier today, Begin said he did not understand why Sadat decided again at the last minute to postpone the resumption of negotiations. He hinted that Israel might not rush to resume negotiations. “The resumption of the talks must be done inconsultation with all the parties, and not only when the Egyptian President wants to do it,” Begin said.
Meanwhile, Begin did not ask the Cabinet today to approve the moving of his office into a new building in East Jerusalem. The United States has devoted considerable efforts in the last few days to convince the Israelis not to make the move Begin discussed the matter last Friday with interior Minister Yosef Burg, head of the Israeli delegation to the autonomy talks.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir tried to minimize the political significance of the expected move. Calling it “purely administrative,” Shamir said, “We shall not agree that other countries will interfere in our decision to move the office from one street in Jerusalem to another.”
CRITICISM OF JERUSALEM LAW
Criticism of the Jerusalem Law, meanwhile, continues to come in from foreign governments. The French Foreign Ministry issued a statement in Paris Friday deploring the Knesset’s “unilateral decision” which it saw as part of a series of measures aimed at putting the status of Jerusalem into question. “The French government wishes to express its serious concern vis a vis actions that contribute to increasing tension in the region and contradict efforts toward a just and durable peace in the Middle East,” the statement said.
In Holland, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said the Dutch government “greatly regrets” the Knesset’s decision on Jerusalem and views “this one-sided change” an “obstacle to a comprehensive peace.” The spokesman noted that ever since 1967 Holland has taken the attitude that the eventual status of East Jerusalem must be the subject of negotiations.
The Canadian government also criticized the move. External Affairs Minister Mark MacGuigan said in Ottawa that the new law was “unhelpful to the peace process, particularly at a time when efforts are being made to achieve an agreement on interim autonomy measures for the Palestinians.”
Turkey has called home for consultations its chief diplomatic representative, Charge d’Affaires Gundo du Ustun. Turkey, which has a legation in Tel Aviv, and Egypt are the only Moslem countries with diplomatic representatives in Israel.
Meanwhile, Pakistan, as chairman of the Islamic Conference, has called for a UN Security Council meeting on the Jerusalem Law. The Council is expected to meet for consultations tomorrow and then hold a meeting.