Egypt is preparing to present a new set of proposals in an effort to restart the stalled Middle East peace negotiations with Israel, according to Sayed Marei one of President Anwar Sadat's closest confidants and the speaker of the Egyptian parliament.
Following White House meetings yesterday with President Carter and his national security affairs adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the Egyptian leader told Washington Post editors that the Cairo administration "is studying certain proposals" to be made. "I think this is feasible and will take place." he added.
Osama El-Baz, undersecretary of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry and a member of Egypt's negotiating team with Israel, said the basis of the proposals will be the arrangement which existed on Israel's borders before 1967 with the West Bank under Jordanian supervision and the Gaza Strip under Egyptian supervision.
"The foreign ministry official, who accompanied Marei, said it will be difficult for Egypt to go into "minute detail" on West Bank-Gaza questions because "we do not have a mandate from the Palestinians" to do so. He added, however, that "within this limit we will be willing to introduce new ideas drafts and so on."
The Egyptian officials were outspoken in their disappointment at last weekend's Israeli cabinet statement on the future of the West Bank and Gaza. Marei called it "most disappointing" and charged that the Israeli position is "hardening day by day."
Marei, who is a member of Egypt's National Security Council, said he personally opposes continuing the Sadat initiative because of lack of change in the Israeli position.However, he said Sadat has not decided to discontinue the peace effort, and is still at attempting to advance it.
Welcoming Marei to the White House, Carter praised recent statements by Sadat as "very constructive, very moderate." The president, in the presence of reporters, said, "We appreciate his [Sadat's] willingness to continue the peace process."
Diplomatic sources said a round of meetings on Mideast peace efforts is likely sometine next month between Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance and the foreign ministers of Egypt and Israel. Such meetings had been tenatively scheduled for early next week in London, but the plan was scrapped following Israel's policy statement last weekend, the sources said.
Egypt has been calling for stronger U.S. diplomatic action to bring about changes in the Isreali position that could break the negotiating impasse. Egyptian Ambassador to Washington Ashraf Ghorbal complained of "shyness" and "overcautiousness" in the statements of the Carter administration, noting that editorials in both The Washington Post and The New York Times had disagreed with the Israeli cabinet statement before the State Department issued a mild dissent.
"I don't believe we have all the time in the world," Ghorbal said.