JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
Former President Jimmy Carter disclosed here last night that President Reagan had consulted him in advance on the Middle East peace initiative Reagan announced last September I and that he found it entirely compatible with the Camp David accords.
As one who “Knows every word of Camp David by heart,” there is “no disparity” between them and the agreement reached between Israel, Egypt and the U.S. at Camp David in September, 1978, Carter declared at a press conference ending his week-long visit to Israel. Carter left this morning for Jordan where he is to meet with King Hussein.
DIFFERENCE OVER INTERPRETATION
The former President’s remarks underscored the deep differences between himself and Premier Menachem Begin over interpretation of the Camp David agreements and the Reagan plan. Israel flatly rejected the Reagan initiative, maintaining that the call for Palestinian self-government on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in association with Jordan and a “freeze” of settlement activity in those territories are “a departure from the conceptual framework of Camp David.”
Carter said the state of the Camp David process with respect to the Palestinians is “dismal now” and had retrogressed in the last two years. He maintained, however, that there were signs of a gradual shift in the Arab world “towards moderation and suggested that statements by Arab leaders that were “despised in Israel” were nevertheless significantly more moderate than statements made by the same Arab leaders three years earlier.
Asked why the Camp David autonomy framework had failed so far to produce an agreement, Carter gave two reasons; “the reluctance of the Jordanians and the Palestinians to come forward and negotiate” and “the sharp disparity between the concept of full autonomy as offered by Premier Begin and his government as contrasted with President (Anwar) Sadat’s and my concept at the conclusion of Camp David.”
RAPS ISRAEL’S AUTONOMY PROPOSALS
Carter castigated Israel’s autonomy proposals. He said Israel offered the Palestinians a long list of minor powers, reserving “veto” rights for itself, and in the important matters of land and water, even such circumscribed powers were not offered.
Carter said he had considered the Israeli proposals “inadequate” from the outset and that his Administration and he personally had invested intense efforts in the autonomy talks. But the “wide disparity became obvious … and it became obvious that Hussein and the Palestinians weren’t going to join.”
He added that in light of Israel’s “massive settlement effort” on the West Bank, many Palestinians believed that Israel was acting “not in good faith.” He said he “frankly deplored” the settlement build-up.
But Carter conceded that one reason for Israel’s attitude with respect to both autonomy and the settlements was “the absence of the Jordanians and the Palestinians” at the peace table. He said if Hussein and the Palestinians would “come forward,” he believed “Israel would make more generous offers, proving its good faith.”
Carter said that while he disagreed with President Reagan on “almost everything, ” he endorsed Reagan’s Middle East proposals. He said Secretary of State George Shultz had sent an emissary to Carter at his home in Plains, Ga. with a draft of Reagan’s proposals before they were announced. Carter said he made “a couple of minor comments which may have been incorporated” in the final version.
He said the rejection of the Reagan initiative by both Israel and the Arab side was to be expected. It was “typical” of the difficulties of Middle East peacemaking, he observed. In the absence of a “great leader” like Sadat who took “a great leap forward,” what was to be hoped for now was a gradual, “incremental” progression toward peace between Israel and the Arabs, Carter said.
CARTER AIRED HIS DIFFERENCES WITH BEGIN
During his public meetings with Begin earlier last week, Carter avoided controversy over disputed issues. He indicated in an Israeli television interview to be screened later this week that he had aired his differences with Begin during their 30-minute private conversation last Tuesday.
He said he had reiterated his understanding that a settlement freeze had been agreed to by Israel at Camp David and that it was to last until both the peace treaty talks with Egypt and the autonomy talks were completed.
Begin’s position has been that the freeze was undertaken for three months only. Carter referred to prior “assurances” from the late Moshe Dayan, in October, 1977, Israel’s Foreign Minister who later participated in the Camp David negotiations, that “no one would be added to the settlements except people in uniform,” meaning security forces. The current massive settlement effort was quite different from what anyone of us dreamed” at Camp David, he said.
CONTINUING ON HIS MIDEAST TOUR
Carter’s private Middle East tour, which began in Egypt before he came to Israel, will take him next week to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Lebanon. He will meet with the heads of government and other top officials in each country. So far on his trip he has met with Palestinian leaders, some of them members of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He said he would report back to the Reagan Administration when he returns to the U.S.
Carter’s visits to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza last week heightened the already tense situation in those areas. Stone-throwing incidents, mainly by Arab youths, escalated. There were disturbances in Ramallah where Carter visited yesterday. His official car passed safely through the West Bank town but the Israeli security vehicle following the motorcade was stoned.
Carter played host to four Palestinian leaders at a lunch at the American Consulate in East Jerusalem yesterday. They included the deposed Mayor of El Bir- reh, Ibrahim Tawil. He reportedly urged the Palestinians to press for participation in peace talks within the Camp David framework.
The former President received an honorary doctorate from Tel Aviv University Thursday night for “his historic and untiring contribution and leadership in the negotiations between Israel and Egypt, in which he lent his name and high office to help achieve a peace treaty between the two countries.”
On that occasion, Carter stressed Begin’s commitment at Camp David to a solution of the Palestinian problem “in all its aspects.” He added, “I regret that many Palestinians do not appreciate Begin’s pledge.”