JERUSALEM (Mar. 9)
Former President Jimmy Carter said here last night that although he is a private citizen, he hoped to be able to introduce new momentum to the Middle East peace process, begun by Premier Menachem Begin, the late President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and himself at Camp David five years ago.
He pledged, at a dinner party hosted by Begin for the former President and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, and Israeli officials who participated in the Camp David talks, that he would do his best to persuade King Hussein of Jordan to join in future talks based on the Camp David accords. He called on Israel to “make it easier” for Hussein to do so.
Carter, on a private tour of the Middle East, arrived in Israel yesterday from Egypt. He will meet with Hussein, King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and President Hafez Assad of Syria as he continues his swing through the region.
He met separately yesterday with Begin, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Knesset Speaker Menachem Savidor. Carter and Begin spoke privately for 30 minutes after a larger reception at the Prime Minister’s Office where the former President was accompanied by his wife and U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis.
PRAISES BEGIN’S ROLE AT CAMP DAVID
At last night’s dinner, Carter praised Begin’s role at Camp David. He said the Israeli leader had shown the greatest “political courage” and had undertaken the largest risks. Carter observed, however, that King Hussein had always felt “excluded” from Camp David and that it was necessary therefore to draw him into the process.
Begin, responding, praised Carter’s tenacity and tremendous will power which brought the Camp David talks in 1978 to their successful conclusion. He stressed that the accords contained an explicit invitation to King Hussein to enter the peace process and reiterated his call to the Jordanian ruler to do so.
Begin also defended Israel’s proposals for Palestinian autonomy, claiming that Israel was offering the Palestinians “much more than any state has ever offered to any minority.” He said the Israeli proposals would enable the Palestinians to govern all aspects of their daily lives while Israel would retain for itself only control of security.
DINNER MARKED BY NOSTALGIA
Israeli officials said the mood of the dinner was warm and nostalgic. The guests reminisced about the 17 dramatic days at the Presidential retreat in the Maryland hills which produced the Camp David accords that led subsequently to Israel’s peace treaty with Egypt. The guests included former Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Rachel Dayan, widow of former Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan. Both Weizman and Dayan played key roles in the Camp David negotiations.
Also present were Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak who, as Israel’s Attorney General at the time, served as legal advisor to the Israeli delegation at Camp David; Ephraim Poran and Man Tehilla, who were military aides; Begin’s former press spokesman, Dan Pattir; and Simcha Dinitz, who as Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, also took part in the Camp David talks.
SITUATION IN LEBANON DISCUSSED
Carter’s meetings with Israeli officials yesterday were described as warm and cordial. The situation in Lebanon was a main topic of discussion and Begin, Shamir and Savidor each assured Carter that Israel is anxious to withdraw its forces from that country as soon as satisfactory security arrangements are agreed to.
Shamir informed Carter that he is going to Washington at the end of this week for discussions with Secretary of State George Shultz and U.S. special Ambassador Philip Habib to try to seek a breakthrough in the negotiations between Israel, Lebanon and the U.S. (See separate story from Washington.)
Carter asked questions but offered no criticism of Israel’s actions in Lebanon. He did observe to Savidor that Israel’s “cold peace” with Egypt was certain to warm up once Israeli forces left Lebanon. When Savidor objected to the “linkage,” Carter said he personally did not link the two issues but the fact is that they are perceived to be linked.
Carter’s private meeting with Begin was reported to have been devoted in large part to reminiscences over Camp David. Both men recalled Sadat’s role in the peace process. Carter noted that he had begun his visit to Israel a few hours earlier by laying a wreath at the Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. He spoke of human rights and particularly the rights of Jews in the Soviet Union. Carter recalled that during his term in office, more Jews were allowed to leave the USSR than at any time before or since then. (Separate story on Carter’s visit to Bethlehem, P. 3.)