Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance ended two days of talks yesterday with signs of possible Israeli movement on some aspects of the stalled Middle East peace negotiations.
Dayan told reporters he must consult Prime Minister Menachem Begin and possibly the rest of the cabinet on "clarifications" of the Israeli negotiating position. The matters in question are believed to include practical details of Begin's "self-rule" plan for the West Bank and Gaza strip, and arrangements for a foem of Palestinian self-determination there after the end of a five-year interim period.
Dayan is considered to be more flexible, at least in diplomatic formulations, than Begin and at this point is the preferred U.S. negotiating partner. Dayan is to meet Begin Sunday in New York at the start of the prime minister's week-long trip across the United States to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Israel's founding.
Because of the active state of the negotiations, Begin's visit to Washington Monday has been upgraded from the purely ceremonial. According to Israeli sources, substantive talks with Vance at the State Department have been added to the schedule for Monday morning and at least a brief substantive discussion with President Carter at the White House is expected.
There was no indication of a major breakthrough, but some indications of possible progress on some details. Vance cautiously declined to say, after meeting with Dayan, whether he was more optimistic than before.
Egyptian-Israeli negotiations have been hung up for weeks on a sweeping "statement of principles" involving Israeli withdrawal and self-determination for the Palestinians. Having failed to resolve the issues in their broad dimension, the United States is seeking to renew the momentum by focusing on the details of the on-the-ground arrangements which underlie the principles.
The United States has expressed willingness to consider Begin's plan as a starting point for this discussion, although officials acknowledge that it is far from acceptable to the Arabs in its original form.
Israeli sources said yesterday that both Dayan and Vance had presented some new ideas in the two days of intensive talks. However, Vance told reporters that no new U.S. decisions are required at this point.
Dayan's discussions here came at a time of intense political controversy over the Carter administration's plan to sell warplanes to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Dayan maintained that he did not discuss the matter with Vance, but informed sources said Vance warned Dayan that the United States would publicly characterize as unjustified interference any Israeli statement that it would rather forgo its jets than to see sales completed to Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Dayan had been quoted along these lines before leaving Israel, but Israeli officials say his words were misinterpreted.
The Israeli foreign minister, in meetings with several senators and a statement at the State Department, reiterated his standard position:
"First, we oppose the jet planes to the Saudis and to the Egyptians at this time because we think that it would endanger Israel.
"Two, we resent the concept of a package deal. We think that selling of arms to Israel should be conducted on its merits and not within a package deal.
"Three, if because of this view we would be punished - that is to say that because we oppose a package deal and the arms sales to Egypt and Saudi Arabia we should not get planes - then we shall accept the punishment but we shall not change our position about it."
There were more meetings at the White House, State Department and on Capitol Hill yesterday in an effort to find a negotiated solution to the conflict over the proposed sales to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but no indication of a compromise. In what may be a last-ditch effort before the aircraft sales proposals are sent to Congress, a group of senators is scheduled to meet Vance at the State Department this morning.
Congress has 30 days after submission to block an arms sale. It takes a majority vote of both houses to take such action.