President Carter, fighting to dispel the uncertainties that have overtaken the Egyptian-Israeli peace talks, intervened in the negotiations again yesterday, and, after meetings with both sides, the White House announced that "progress has been made."
Carter acted following the announcement Friday that the leaders of the Israeli delegations, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, were returning to Jerusalem for consulations.
The two, who left last night, are not expected back in Washington until middle of the week. Their departure was prompted by growing anxiety in Israel over certain positions Egypt has taken and Dayan's feeling that the delegations here do not have sufficient negotiating authority to overcome the disagreements.
Everyone involved has emphasized that the talks are not being broken off. Inevitably, though, the unexpected turn of events has caused concern that the historic drive toward an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, lauched last month at the Camp David summit, is in peril.
To counteract the potentially demoralizing effects of such speculation, Carter, it became known yesterday, secretly launched a new effort Friday night to intensify the negotiations.
The White House announced late yesterday that the president met with Dayland and Weizman for 2 1/2 hours at the White House Friday night. Yesterday morning Carter met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Boutros Ghali and members of his delegation.
Although the White House did not say what was discussed, the president's intervention sparked a new meeting between the Egyptian and Israeli delegations that lasted through much of yesterday. Also attending this meeting was Ambassador Alfred L. Atherton Jr., who is heading the U.S. delegation in the absence of Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance.
The upshot of these meetings, the White House statement said, was that "all sides feel that the talks were constructive and that progress has been made."
Sources familiar with the negotiations said the statement is intended to indicate that there has been a definite intensification of the negotiations and that "some real movement" has now become evident.
The sources declined to specify which areas of disagreements about the future of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and their Palestinian inhabiants.
Although these Israeli-occupied areas outside the scope of the proposed peace treaty, Egypt wants some kind of commitment to the principle of eventual Israeli withdrawal. Israel, though, argues that, in accordance with the decisions taken at Camp David, the future of these areas should be denied in separate negotiations after the current talks are concluded successfully.
Another sticking point involves Isreal's insistence on full diplomatic relations with Egypt after Israel begins withdrawing its forces from the Sinai peninsula. Egypt, concerned about adverse reaction in the Arab world, reportedly wants to move more slowly.
Still other disputes relate to how much U.S. financial aid will be given to help Israel pay for its withdrawal from the Sinai. Israel wants help in relocating settlers and building two air bases in the Negev to replace those in the Sinai.
There also are a number of other unresolved issues that both sides regard as being of lesser importance. These include an Egyptian proposal to reopen the treaty for review after five years and preferential Isreali access to oil pumped from Sinai fields.