WASHINGTON (Sep. 20)
The Carter Administration apparently backtracked today on a position President Carter and his principal aides took at the Camp David meetings last year with reference to Jews as individuals buying land on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan said yesterday that at Camp David the Americans raised objections to Jewish settlements in those territories but none on individuals buying land. The U.S. Dayan said, found “nothing wrong with individuals” buying land but “now that we are doing it we hear it the other way around.”
Before Dayan’s remarks at a press conference here late yesterday, State Department spokesman Hodding Carter said the Israel Cabinet decision lifting the 12-year ban on individuals buying land, violated the “spirit” of the Camp David accords and raised difficulties in the peace process. Today, Carter said the understanding at Camp David was in the context of the Palestinians and Jordanians joining in the discussions.
“At Camp David,” he said. “the three leaders (President Carter, Premier Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat) agreed on a mechanism for establishing the final status of those territories. The mechanism was for going through negotiations which should include representatives of the Palestinians. Those negotiations have begun. We hope the Palestinians and Jordanians will join them. We hope the negotiations will lay out an agreed legal framework establishing new life in these territories–for establishing how life in these territories, including land ownership, is to be run. We oppose unilateral actions which prejudice the outcome of these negotiations or which make the conduct of these negotiations more difficult.”
Asked directly if Dayan had misrepresented the U.S. by his presentation that the U.S. had agreed to individuals buying land, Carter replied: “It does not matter in any case what may or may not have been expressed about a preferable outcome, for the disposition of land, What was definitely envisaged was that the outcome would not be prejudiced by individual actions but would be determined by joint actions in the negotiating process, including Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians,”