Hopes Raised for Improved Relations Between U.S. and Israel

Hopes were raised here on the eve of the new year that relations with the United States will improve in the weeks ahead following the bitter confrontation with Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

They are based on cautious optimism being expressed in Israeli circles that the U.S. will veto any resolution calling for sanctions against Israel when the United Nations Security Council resumes its debate on the Golan issue this week and on reports that Secretary of State Alexander Haig plans to visit Israel in the course of a Middle East tour in February, with the objective of improving relations with Jerusalem.

The likelihood that the U.S. will black sanctions emerged from the visit to Washington last week by David Kimche, Director General of the Foreign Ministry, who reportedly met with Haig and other Administration officials. Kimche’s trip was not officially announced nor formally confirmed. But Israeli sources said privately that it was undertaken as part of an effort by both governments to end the crisis precipitated by the Golan law.

SHAMIR: NO FURTHER CONCESSIONS POSSIBLE

A major focus of Haig’s visit, according to Israeli sources, will be to restore momentum to the long stalled autonomy talks between Israel and Egypt. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir predicted that the U.S. would make a “special effort” to achieve progress in the talks during the coming weeks. But Shamir warned, in separate speeches last week, that “no more concessions are possible” from Israel.

At the same time, while defending the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights as timely and necessary because of “Syrian intransigence,” he held the door open for negotiations with “a future Syrian government” should it be willing to talk to Israel “without preconditions” on the basis of UN Security Council Resolution 242. Shamir’s formulation was intended to provide the U.S. with a legal basis to oppose sanctions at the UN, observers here believe.

But the Foreign Minister took a very tough line in speeches to the Aguda Israel World Executive here and to a Herut youth group in Tel Aviv last Wednesday. At the Aguda conclave, he warned that Israel would not succumb to any pressure from Washington for concessions in the autonomy talks. He contended that Israel needs more time, “a few years,” to determine whether its treaty with Egypt was indeed “a true lasting peace and could make no new concessions during that period of testing.

He blasted a statement by Egypt’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Boutros Ghali, that only U.S. pressure on Israel would produce a comprehensive Middle East settlement. Pressure would have a contrary effect, making Israel more resolute and obdurate, he warned.

Shamir took an even harder line in his speech to an enthusiastic audience of Herut youth. “Israel will make no more compromises,” he declared: “At Camp David we reached the absolute limit and no more concessions are possible. We will honor the Camp David commitments but the world had better know that we will take no more risks.”

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