JERUSALEM (Jan. 31)
Premier Menachem Begin told the Cabinet today that he had categorically rejected an American proposal to allow East Jerusalem Arabs voting rights with respect to the self-governing body on the West Bank under the autonomy plan.
He said he told Secretary of State Alexander Haig at their meetings here last week that there was no point in raising ideas concerning autonomy which deviated from the Camp David agreements. Such ideas were raised in the past and rejected by Israel, Begin said.
The voting rights idea was put forward by Haig during his latest visit to the region in an apparently unsuccessful attempt to break the impasse in the autonomy negotiations between Israel and Egypt. Haig ended his visit here on a pessimistic note Thursday, saying there were more differences than agreement between the two sides and much work had to be done.
HAIG SEES NO PROGRESS TOWARD AUTONOMY ACCORD
He made similar remarks after leaving Cairo Friday for London enroute to Washington. He reportedly indicated to reporters on his plane that there was no chance for progress toward on agreement before April 26 when Israel completes its final withdrawal from Sinai.
A senior U.S. official was quoted as saying: “There are very serious differences between the two parties in every aspect of autonomy. The hope now is for gradual progress in the months ahead with no deadline set.” The general consensus of the Cabinet, however, is that the Americans would continue to pursue an autonomy agreement before the April withdrawal deadline, although the prospects of success are dim.
Haig said after leaving Cairo that he would recommend to President Reagan that he appoint Richard Fairbanks, former Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations, to serve as his special envoy to the autonomy talks. That position was held by Sol Linowitz in the Carter Administration. Unlike Linowitz, Fairbanks has no background or experience in Mideastern affairs.
MUBARAK FAVORS PALESTINIAN SELF-DETERMINATION
Meanwhile, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt said in Rome yesterday that Egypt would continue to press for the Palestinian people’s “natural right to self-determination.” Addressing a banquet given in his honor by President Sandro Pertini, Mubarak said with respect to the autonomy talks:
“We are struggling to arrive at a declaration of principles which would give the West Bank of the Jordan River and the Gaza Strip total autonomy. This would be a first step to involve the Palestinian people in efforts toward a peace settlement which would allow it to exercise its natural right to self-determination.”
Mubarak, on his first trip abroad since he succeeded to the Presidency following the assassination of Anwar Sadat last October, is due in Washington Tuesday for talks with President Reagan. He is accompanied by Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali.
Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ashraf Ghorbal, said in Washington last Friday that his country will not resume the autonomy negotiations with Israel until the Sinai withdrawal phase is over next April. He suggested that by then there will be a “more relaxed atmosphere with no dates and no deadlines.” He made his comments after Haig, concluding an hour-long meeting with Mubarak in Cairo, indicated no breakthrough was in sight on an autonomy agreement.
At today’s Cabinet meeting, Begin quoted a recent interview in which Mubarak said Egypt would not join Syria in a war with Israel. According to Begin, that was proof that Israel succeeded in its goal to draw Egypt out of “the circle of wars.” Begin also reiterated Israel’s intention to honor all of its agreements with Egypt and evacuate Sinai by the appointed date.
“I will not agree to use weapons against Jews in Yamit, but if it is necessary to evacuate the people from there, we shall do so and in due course,” he said.