WASHINGTON (May. 1)
Sol Linowitz, who was President Carter’s special envoy for Middle East negotiations, today faulted the Reagan Administration for not moving "more vigorously" in its Middle East peace efforts.
This has allowed the Camp David process to decline while President Reagan’s own peace initiative is "expiring on the shelf," he said in response to questions on the NBC-TV "Meet the Press" program.
Linowitz, who has long urged the Administration to appoint a high official to deal with the autonomy talks as he did in the final year of the Carter Administration, said he was concerned when Philip Habib was made special envoy for both the Lebanese negotiations and the overall peace process last year because he felt one would be "subordinate" to the other.
Someone other than the Secretary of State has to deal with the Middle East peace process because the Secretary is pressed by other issues, Lino- witz stressed. However, he said he expected Secretary of State George Shultz to return from his first mission to the Middle East with at least an agreement in principle on the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon.
WILL KEEP TRYING FOR AN AGREEMENT
But on the CBS-TV "Face the Nation" program today, Lawrence Eagleburger, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, did not seem as optimistic. He said Shultz went to the Middle East last week because it was judged that "now was the time for him to go" since if he did not involve himself in the negotiations directly, there would be a "deterioration" in the talks.
Eagleburger said he did not know if Shultz would return with an agreement, but "if he can’t make it, we will try again."
BEGIN AND HUSSEIN CRITICIZED
On the NBC program, Linowitz also was critical of King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin for not being more forthcoming in the peace efforts. "Hussein has been too dependent on the will" of Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, Linowitz said.
He said "a mistake was made … in making the President’s plan hostage to negotiations between Hussein and Arafat. " He added that Hussein has "an obligation, has an interest to participate in the negotiations on behalf of the Palestinians."
Linowitz ruled out U.S. talks with Arafat or the PLO until the PLO recognizes Israel’s right to exist and accepts UN Security Council Resolution 242.
As for Begin, Linowitz said he has "not been forthcoming, not as willing to take steps that I think would not have endangered Israel’s security" but would have moved the peace process forward. While he did not explain what those steps were, when Linowitz was asked about Israeli settlements on the West Bank, he replied, "I have long felt that it is not in Israel’s best interests to continue with the settlements."
Linowitz said that when he was participating in the autonomy discussions, he told Israel the settlements were an obstacle but he believes now that something could be worked out if negotiations begin.
At the same time, Linowitz said he believes that the future of the West Bank may be resolved if an autonomy agreement can be reached and there is the five years of experience of living with it, as envisioned by the Camp David agreements.
SAYS WITHHOLDING F-16S IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE
Linowitz said the witholding of authorization for the sale of 75 F-16 fighter-bombers to Israel was a "counterproductive" move, "You don’t get Israel acquiescing and cooperating by threatening what it regards as necessary for its security, " he said.
Eagleburger said he "suspects" that the Soviet Union’s re-arming of Syria is "to demonstrate to Syria and other Arab states, particularly the radical Arab states, that the Soviets are still a player in the Middle East" after the "clobbering" Syria took from Israel in Lebanon which also reflected badly on Soviet equipment. But he said the Soviet move created the danger of an East-West conflict.
While the Soviets may be trying to increase their influence in the Arab world, Eagleburger stressed, the Arab world knows that the "U.S. alone has the ability to bring the various parties together " He said the only effect the Soviets can have on the Middle East peace process is a "negative factor."