WASHINGTON (Oct. 15)
Discussions on resuming the West Bank-Goza autonomy talks between Egypt, Israel and the U. S. were put off today until after the American Presidential elections Nov. 4, and the proposed summit conference between the leaders of the three nations was postponed indefinitely pending additional preparatory sessions.
This was the upshot of the two days of meetings held here at the invitation of the U.S. between Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali of Egypt, Israeli Interior Minister Yosef Burg and U.S. special ambassador Linowitz. They discussed their results at a State Department press conference led by Linowitz at which it was apparent that little if any changes had taken place on the major questions awaiting resolution.
It had been envisioned previously that President Carter, President Anwar Sodat of Egypt and Premier Menachem Begin of Israel would meet in Washington in mid-November. But Linowitz said today that the summit meeting would not take place until after many other meetings concerning preparations to ensure its success. He indicated that January, 1981 would be the earliest dote. The U.S. envoy said the parties would not want “to go to a summit unless we were certain it is timely and productive.”
Linowitz announced that over the next two weeks, the U.S. will prepare a revised memorandum of understanding stemming from the latest tripartite discussions and the representatives of the three nations will meet on Nov. 17 “in the area” — presumably in Egypt or Israel — to discuss further summit conference arrangements and the provisions of autonomy. He indicated that the Nov. 17 meeting will not be on the ministerial level.
Linowitz also said that the Jerusalem issue will not be included in the new memorandum of understanding. All and Burg both made it clear that they did not offer their positions on Jerusalem at the meetings just concluded here. Linowitz observed, “We have agreed this is not the time to deal with the Jerusalem issue.” Pressed as to whether the Arabs of East Jerusalem would participate in the autonomy talks, Linowitz replied, “That is one of the issues.”
Linowitz, Burg and Ali were unable to agree, in their appearance before the press, in response to a question as to whether there is now greater urgency about the overall strategic picture in the Middle East due to the Iraqi-Iranian war, or if the Palestinian issue is still seen as their top priority.
Ali said, “Of course the Palestinian problem will and is now the top issue in the Middle East and will stay as such until we come to a comprehensive peace settlement in the area.” He said the Egyptian position, as conveyed to the U.S., is that the Palestinian problem is “the cornerstone or core” of the Middle East problem. Burg said the Arabs should look toward the Persian Gulf “to see how devastating a war can be and should understand that from the Lib yon-Egyptian border to the Jordan River and the Syrian border, there is peace because there is Camp David and the autonomy talks.”