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Peace Talks Said to Face Major Crisis; Vance Going to Egypt, Israel

December 6, 1978
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

“Very senior sources” in Jerusalem were reported today as saying that the current peace negotiations with Egypt face a major crisis that could end in deadlock unless Israel and Egypt adopt new decisions.

The sources said, according to Haaretz, that the widespread assumption that Israel and Egypt have gone too far down the road to peace to turn back is erroneous and that, in fact, a whole year of intensive negotiations may go down the drain. It was disclosed that Israeli and Egyptian officials have held intensive telephone conversations during the last few days in an effort to reach a basis for resuming the stalled peace talks in Washington, but without success. The U.S. is also continuing its efforts to renew the talks, but without noticeable results.

According to reports from Washington today, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance has been ordered by President Carter to cancel scheduled attendance at a NATO meeting in Brussels and instead visit Egypt and Israel. Vance is due in Cairo Sunday and Jerusalem afterwards. (See full report from Washington P.3.)

There is speculation here that the U.S. may take a hands-off position for the time being as a means of exerting pressure on both sides to resume negotiations. Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan met with U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis today, reportedly on that subject.

Meanwhile, Cairo confirmed today that a message from Premier Menachem Begin has been delivered to President Anwar Sadat. The text of the letter was not disclosed here or in Egypt but it is believed to contain Israel’s response to Egypt’s latest proposals and to state Israel’s position. Officials here said the peace talks could be resumed immediately if Egypt responded in a positive manner to Begin’s message. Egypt has been reported to have offered a concession on its demand for a fixed timetable for autonomy on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

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