Peace talks between Egypt and Israel began here today but the fragility of the negotiations was under scored tonight when Israeli Prime Minister Menahem Begin shocked guests at a state dinner with an outburst of criticism directed at Egypt.
While his American and Egyptian guests listened in stunned embarrassment, Begin bluntly took issue with and arrival statement Sunday by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel.
U.S. congressional leaders who were also guests at the dinner said they were shocked not so much by Begin's reiteration of his familiar hardine views but by the fact that he chose to air them at an occasion intended to get the peace talks off to a positive start.
Kamel, in a terse reply at the dinner said, "As to the prime minister's views, I think the place to discuss them is in the committee meetings." Egyptian delegation spokesman Mursi Saad Eddine, talking to reporters later about Begin's speech, said, "This is not the way we do things in Egypt."
While members of the Egyptian delegation refused to make further formal comment in private they said that Begin's abrasive tone reflected the kind of "arrovant"" Israeli thinking that President Anwar Sadat had hoped his Jerusalem visit had put in the past.
Rebutting Kamel's warning on Sunday that no peace is possible if Israel continues to occupy Arab lands and to deny the Palestinians "national rights," Begin told the dinner guests:
"If Israel followed suit and used negative terms, I'd say peace cannot be established should Israel restore or agree to restore the fragile, breakable> aggression-provoking and bloodshed-causing lines preceding June 5, 1967."
That was the day Israel's successful Six Day War against Egyptian, Jordanian and Syrian forces began.
Begin insisted that "there is almost an absolute national consensus" on this feeling.
The Israeli leader also said that "out of deep respect for the great Arab people we organize and rejoice in the right of self-determination in 21 Arab states."
But he made clear that the maintained his refusal to apply these principles to a proposed future Palestinian state on the Israeli-occupied West Bank of the Jordan and the the Gaza Strip.
While acknowledge that Zionists had invoked self-determination in their own struggles for a national state in Palestine, he said the principle "was misused in the late 1930s and the result brought disaster to Europe and the world."
Presumably he was referring to Nazi Germany's invocation of self-determination for ethnic Germans in neighboring states to further its aggressive expansionism.
Begin has in the past compared the Palestine Liberation Organization with Nazis.
The Egyptian foreign minister briefly answered Begin in the by-then hushed room where with Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance and Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan he had formerly opened the Egyptian-Israeli political committee meetings this morning.
"I can only repeat that we believe the basic elements of a positive, just and lasting peace are the elements, I stated very clearly on the opening session," Kamel said.
Several staunchly pro-Israel congressmen who are here as part a delegation led by Rep. Clement Zablocki (D-Wis.) chairman of the House International Relations Committee, reportedly were sharply critical of Begin's performance in private discussions afterward.
The formal talks between the foreign ministers opened on a more conciliatory one earlier today. But conciliatory tone earlier today. But it was nonetheless clear from the opening statements that difficult bargaining lies ahead. The American inspired compromise on the wording of the agenda, which brought the talks from the brink of collapse over the weekened, appears to be the only thing that the two sides agree on at this stage.
The different approach of the two countries was expressed in the foreign ministers' opening talks. Dayan stressed the need for mutual compromise hile Kamel called for new Israeli concessions to match peace moves that he said his side had already made.
"Any attempt to solve our problems and differences by ultimatum would miss the whole point, destoryed the very purpose of peace talks," Dayan said. "The only way to make progress in our joint task is to explore the various problems . . . Thirty years of hostility to Israel and of refusal to accept her existence have left their mark . A good deal of good will wisdom and imagination are called for."
Kamel, speaking of the Palestinians' struggle "to end their subjugation and their diaspora, to exercise their national right in accordance with the most sacred principals of equal rights and self-determination of peoples," said that "it would be tragic should you deny the existence of this Palestinian reality, espicially when we have declared our readiness to accept you as part of the Middle East."
"There will be no real peace in Palestine for the house of Israel unless there will be an equal house there for the Palestinian people," Kamel said.
Vance took the middle ground, saying:
"True peace must be based on normal relations among the parties to the peace . . . Second, there must be withdrawal by Israel from territories accupied in 1967 and agreement on secure and recognized borders for all parties . . . in accordance with U.N. resolutions 242 and 338. And third, there must be a resolution of the Palestinian problem in all its aspects. The solution must recognize the legitimate right of the Palestinian people and enable the Palestinians to participate in the determination of their own future."
The Israelis do not feel they should accept responsiblity for Palestinians living outside the occupied territory and, although the Israeli proposal calls for a measure of "self-rule" for the occupied territories, they do not like the idea of self-determination which might end up in a separate Palestinian state.
At a press conference this afternoon, Dayan said that the problem of the elements of a peace treaty were largely "technical in nature" and that the real disagreement came on the question of Israeli withdrawals and the Palestinian problem, including the right of self-determination.
There has been a great deal of talk here about a possible compromise American proposal that would defer a permanent solution to the Palestine problem to allow the Egyptians to accept Israel's limited "self-rule" proposal as a temporary solution that would be reviewed in a number of years.
Dayan said the Americans had suggested no such compromise to him. But Israel officials said that they would not favor such a plan if self-determination were to be seen as a guaranteed end result while the Egyptians would like to see some commitment to eventual self-determination for the Palestinians.
The Israelis were pleased by the stress on true peace and on resolution 242, which calls only for unspecified Israeli withdrawals.
The Egyptians were pleased with Vance's stress upon the Palestinian problems "in all its aspects," which might include Palestinians living outside of Palestine. The Egyptians were also pleased with Vance's emphasis on Palestinian "determination of their own future."
After the opening statements, the Israeli and Egyptian delegations exchanged position papers in a 15-miniute session and then adjourned again until Wednesday afternoon so that the delegations could study each other's proposals.
Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo attended as an observe for the United nations but not as a participant.