TEL AVIV (Jan. 27)
Secretary of State Alexander Haig arrived here today on his second visit in two weeks in what is seen as a major U.S. effort with Israel and Egypt to break the impasse in the long stalled autonomy talks.
Haig, accompanied by his wife and a party of aides, was greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir. He told reporters that he is returning to Jerusalem and Cairo after having studied and assessed the positions of the two sides as conveyed to him during his earlier visit.
“We have, during the intervening period, studied most carefully the facts we acquired here and in Egypt during that last visit, and we look forward on this occasion to discussing in both countries our assessments of the autonomy talks process as it now stands and do all we can to move this process forward, without deadlines, of course, as we emphasized earlier,” Haig said.
NO INDICATION OF U.S. PROPOSALS
He gave no indication that he was bringing any specific American proposals to bridge the gap between Israel and Egypt over autonomy for the Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Haig commenced his talks with Shamir during the drive to Jerusalem and they continued for nearly an hour at the King David Hotel. Shamir said that Israel was greatly appreciative of U.S. efforts and promised that it would do its utmost to further American endeavors. Haig also met today with Interior Minister Yosef Burg, head of Israel’s autonomy negotiating team.
The Secretary of State is due to meet with Premier Menachem Begin late this afternoon. He will have a second meeting with Begin tomorrow morning to be followed by a session with the full Israeli negotiating team. He is scheduled to leave for Cairo at noon tomorrow.
LIMITS AND REALITIES OF AUTONOMY
Prior to Haig’s arrival, Shamir told the Jerusalem Economic Club last night that Israel would cooperate with the U.S. in speeding up the autonomy negotiations, “but within the limits dictated by its history and its present realities.” He asserted that “autonomy does not mean sovereignty or the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Shamir emphasized that Israel had not signed the Camp David accords to desert Judaea, Samaria and Gaza. Israel, he said, had signed the agreements to stay in these areas and live there peacefully alongside the Arab residents. He added that even though Israel was eager to see agreement on autonomy, the peace with Egypt was the more important accomplishment.