Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance will ask Egypt and Israel next week to accept a set of interim principles that would avert a stalemate on the Palestinian problem while leaving the most difficult issues unresolved, informed U.S. officials said yesterday.
Vance's plan arises from the belief that "at this point there is no prospect of reaching an agreement on what the final settlement will be on the West Bank and Gaza Strip," reporters at the State Department were told.
Among the issues to be left for the future, in proposals Vance will take to Jerusalem in a flying trip that befins tonight, is the question of ultimate Israeli withdrawal from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip. According to a briefing by an informed official, who would not permit use of his name. Israel would not be required to commit itself at this stage to such a withdrawal, but neither would an ultimate Israeli withdrawal from these areas be foreclosed.
The U.S. proposals would not embrace an option for Palestinians to create an independent state on the West Bank - an idea that is rejected outright by Israel. But a Palestinian referendum involving limited choices at a future stage is envisioned in U.S. thinking.
No decision on the future of the city of Jerusalem is expected to be part of the interim principles, reporters were told.
The U.S. ideas, which are expected to be submitted by Vance to the Jerusalem meeting of Egyptian and Israeli foreign ministers early next week, are designed to create "a buffer period of time - an interim period" during which further negotiations as well as changes in practical arrangements on the West Bank can take place.
Negotiations for the final arrangements would take place "over a period of years" under the U.S. plan, the official said.
The U.S. hope is that Jordan and "acceptable Palestinians" - which "clearly" does not mean the Palestine Liberation Organization - would accept "interim" principles as sufficiently promising to permit them to join the negotiating process for a comprehensive Middle East settlement, he said. But he conceded that there is yet no assurance that the U.S. ideas will be accepted.
"There will have to be some evolution in the thinking of both sides if there is to be progress in this difficult area," the official said. "There are very fundamental differences" between Egypt and Israel on the Palestinian question, he said.