Discussions Reopen on Approaches to Resume the Autonomy Talks

Discussions on approaches to resume the West Bank-Gaza Strip autonomy talks were reopened today by the Egyptian, American and Israeli negotiators as Israeli sources expressed satisfaction that the United States has now reached “positively” toward the position on the autonomy framework that Israel set forth last January.

In two private and separate meetings at a downtown hotel, special U.S. ambassador Sal Linowitz met first with Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and then with Israeli Interior Minister Yosef Burg. The three then went to Blair House, the Presidential guest quarters opposite the White House, for three-way conversations

Sources told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the Linowitz-Ali-Burg discussions will concentrate on “resumption” of the autonomy talks.” We are not talking about the summit, ” one source said, referring to State Department information last week that they would “initiate” a meeting in Washington in mid-November of President Carter, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin.

ISRAELIS SURPRISED ABOUT ‘SURPRISE’

These sources expressed surprise at the “surprise” asserted in a widely-distributed report to U.S. officials that “on the eve of the formal resumption of negotiations on Palestinian self-rule Israel has mode a concession to reduce its differences with Egypt.”

According to this report, “American intermediaries” had reported that “the Israelis accepted an American contention that Palestinians in the area should have a voice in the area in determining land policy for the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip including whether more Jewish settlements will be built there.” This appraisal referred to the Israeli paper presented to the State Department two days ago.

When the JTA asked Israeli sources for confirmation, their reaction was “We are very happy our position paper has been received here positively” However, the sources added, “whoever, thinks there was a change in Israel’s position which was flexible and forthcoming is incorrect. It has been Israel’s position since last January when it was presented as a model to Egypt and reaffirmed in the Israeli paper. This paper reflects in a nutshell the main points of our position on the autonomy plan.”

NOT A NEW ISRAELI POSITION

“We are wondering why there is surprise about this now,” the JTA was further told. “This Israeli position pointed out to the American side two days ago was in full conformity of Israel’s position that it has had for months.

“We always suggested in our model for autonomy that the powers of responsibility now maintained by the military government should become three-fold: (I) Eighty percent of these powers would be vested in the newly-elected autonomous body. (2) Some powers would be shared by the autonomous body and Israel. (3) Other powers, namely security, would be retained by Israel. The shared powers would be on matters such as water and land. None of this is new.”

The Israelis expressed hope that the autonomy talks first suspended by Egypt last May will be resumed soon. “As far as we are concerned,” the sources said, “we look for more progress along the lines of negotiations. “

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