Talks between Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman appear to have cleared the way for a renewed dialogue between the two Middle East countries, Israeli officials reported yesterday.
The officials were so optimistic that they predicted a continuning dialogue between the two countries even if talks in London next week produce no progress.
Israeli journalists who followed the talks Thursday in Austria, said that the discussions created a jovial mood reminiscent of the atmosphere last November when Sadat made his historic trip to Israel.
Marked optimism was apparent here despite the tight secrecy the Israeli government is maintaining on details of the Weizman-Sadat talks.
Even Weizman, who is known for his openness, declined to comment after his arrival home from Austria yesterday afternoon. He went instead to a two-hour meeting with Prime Minister Menachem Begin, and is scheduled to brief the Israeli Cabinet tomorrow.
Israeli officials noted that Sadat, in agreeing to talks between Weizman and Egyptian Defense Minister Mohammed Gamassi in Austria, had reversed a previous stand that the two would not meet unless Israel had "something new to offer."
But Israeli officials denied that Israel had brought a new set of revised proposals to the talks with Sadat.
Begin insisted in a newspaper interview yesterday that Weizman had brought no new proposals to Austria, and that Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan would bring nothing to the London talks that begin next Tuesday.
Former foreign minister Abba Eban said last night in an interview that the meeting earlier this week between Labor Party leader Shimon Peres and Sadat had probably cleared the way of Sadat's invitation to Weizman.
Eban also praised a controversial peace plan released Monday by Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky and West German Social Democratic leader Willy Brandt that calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories and for the right of Palestinians' to take part in determining their own political future through negotiations.
The plan has been accepted by Sadat but sharply criticized by Dayan and other Israeli officials.
Eban called it "the best document Israel could hope for" under the circumstances.
Reuter reported from Austria :
President Sadat was not optimisitic about the results of his Austrian meetings, saying before leaving for home: "It's only us making concessions. Israel never makes concessions."
What Begin wants is security, coexistence, normal relations and all the land and sovereignty. I am ready to meet the first three, but not ready to submit land or sovereignty under any circumstances," he added.
But he said he hoped the meeting with Weizman would help revive the stalled peace talks.