JERUSALEM (Sep. 4)
Premier Menachem Begin will call on President Carter at the White House a week after the Presidential elections. Carter invited him today when Begin phoned to congratulate the President on the agreement to resume the autonomy ###
Begin also phoned President Anwar Sadat for the some purpose, and the two leaders agreed to issue directives to their autonomy negotiators on how to go about renewing the talks. Initial reports of the phone conversation gave no word, however, of when the talks are likely to restart.
There has already been some uncertainty surrounding this point, with officials in Cairo quote as saying that the agreement arrived at by U.S. special envoy Sol Linowitz did not necessarily signal an early resumption of the talks. Israeli officials, for their part, have been at pains to stress that Israel gave no concessions or “gestures” to persuade Sadat to agree to the resumption.
Begin’s visit to the U.S. in November has been planned for some time. He will take part in celebrations there marking the centenary of Zeev Jabotinsky’s birth. His visit to Carter will, therefore, be a private and not formal one. It was not immediately clear today whether Carter would turn the visit into the tripartite summit that Israel Egypt and the U.S. have pledged to hold under the new Linowitz talks-resumption agreement.
Asked in a TV interview last night when this summit was likely to take place, Begin said that was up to Carter as host. But he certainly supposed that the “intention is not to hold it before November fourth” (Election Day).
ISRAEL STRESSES NO CONCESSIONS WERE MADE
Meanwhile, Begin and top officials are stressing that Israel made no concessions in order to secure the Linowitz agreement on the resumption of the autonomy talks. Begin told TV interviewers last night that Israel’s positions remained unchanged. There was no need to change them, he said.
Did this mean, he was asked, that Sadat had not obtained any of the conditions he had earlier stipulated for a resumption of the talks? “Quite true,” Begin replied. Sadat had been demanding that Israel shift its stand on Jerusalem and the settlements — or at least pronounce these two vexed issues open to negotiation.
But, as Begin himself noted in the interview Sadat did leave a way open to the resumption of the talks by persistently demanding a tripartite summit. Linowitz seized upon this as the basis for the compromise document he worked out during his visit here this week and which he announced in Alexandria last night after meeting Sadat.
The document specifies that the talks will be resumed “at a mutually agreed date” while at the same time there will be consultations on “the preparation, venue and timing of a summit meeting.” Thus, Israel got the resumption it was insisting on — and Sadat got the summit he was urging.
A SUCCESS FOR CARTER
Above all, as observers in all three capitals are pointing out, Carter got a sorely needed success which he can use in the election campaign to demonstrate that the Camp David peace process, his best foreign policy achievement, is still alive and well.
Presumably it was this opportunity to benefit Carter and make him further indebted to Sadat — that persuaded Sadat to set aside his earlier conditions and agree to a resumption of the talks. He will doubtless press to “collect the debt” from Carter if and when the President is reelected.
Despite the Israeli denials, assessments persist among observers in Jerusalem that there were some Israeli covert signals to Egypt, conveyed through Linowitz, that would fit into the designation, in the Linowitz document, of undertakings “to strengthen the foundation of mutual trust and friendship in the coming weeks.” The speculation here is that Begin has in fact given Egypt and the U.S. to understand that he will not press ahead with moving his office to East Jerusalem at this time.