President Carter, displaying impatience and some irritation over the pace of the Middle East peace negotiations, called on Israel and Egypt last night to submerge the "little, tiny technicalities" that still separate them to the "paramount" need to reach a peace treaty.
In an hour-long, nationally televised interview last night with Bill Moyers on the Public Broadcasting Service, the president accused both the Egyptians and the Israelis of being stubborn in squabbling over "technicalities" during the drawn-out negotiations since the Camp David summit conference agreement on a "framework" for an Egyptian-Israeli peace.
And if the talks break down, Carter warned, "our children, our grandchildren, future generations (will) look back and say these little, tiny technicalities, phrases, phrasing of ideas, legalisms, which at that time seemed to be paramount in the eyes of the Egyptian and Israeli governments, have absolutely no historical significance. That is basically what the problems are."
Carter added that "compared to the principles that have already been resolved and the overall scope of things, the disagreements now relatively are insignificant."
The president's comments, and the tone of impatience that accompanied them, followed by one day his intervention in the peace negotiations with the presentation of a new U.S. compromise proposal for breaking the most serious remaining impasse in the talks.
Carter spoke by telephone Sunday with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, explaining the U.S. proposal dealing with a link between an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and promised future progress on resolving the status of the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In the interview, the president single out neither side for particular criticism and a Whi* te House aide said Carter's intention was to urge "both sides" to recognize the needs of the other and to display "additional flexibility." But his comments were laced with critical observations about the talks becoming mined in "legalisms," a trait for which Begin, a lawyer, has been criticized before.
At a news conference last week in Kansas City, Carter said he favored the language dealing with the West Bank-Gaza Strip issue that had been agreed to by the negotiators but rejected by the Israeli cabinet.
He told Moyers last night that the talks since Camp David have been complicated because, while both sides agreed not to make direct statements to the press, "this has not been honored at all," and by the fact that any agreements must be referred back to the Egyptian and Israeli governments.
In an implied although clear criticism of the Israeli government, the president spoke of the need for the negotiators to "refer their decision back to the head of state or the cabinet, the cabinet reverses themselves, reverses the negotiators on a language change or one word and in effect you get the most radical members of the governments who have a major input into the negotiating process . . ."
Suggesting that the talks are at a critical stage, Carter said he could not predict how they would break.
"We hope that they will continue to work in reaching an agreement, to understand one another, to balance the consequences of failure against the benefits to be derived from the success, and to be flexible on both sides," he said.
"We cannot make Israel accept the Egyptian's demands, nor vice versa. We have to try to tone down those demands and use our influence."
The president's comments on the Middle East were the highlight of the wide-ranging interview, during which he also:
Described as two "unpleasant surprises" as president the "inertia of Congress" and the "irresponsibility of the press." He said there is in the latter "a sense of doubt or even cynicism about the government" and that "inaccurate" news reports could often be avoided by "a simple checking of the facts."
Reaffirmed his support for the embattled shah of Iran as "a friend, a loyal ally," but conceded that criticism of the shah for "running a police state" is "sometimes perhaps justified." Carter said the United States has detected no attempts by the Soviet Union to undermine the shah and said he hopes democreatic elections are possible in Iran in six to eight months.
Said he has not decided whether to seek reelection in 1980 and that "I can see why it is difficult for a president to serve two terms. You are the personification of problems and when you address a problem even successfully you become identified with it."
Asserted that there is nothing incompatible between his emphasis on efficient government and reducing the budget deficit and traditional Democratic concern for social programs.
Predicted that while the rate of decline in unemployment may slow because of the anti-inflation program, there will not be a net loss of jobs because of it.
Said neither the United States nor the Soviet Union can afford to adopt "a macho attitude" aimed at domination of the other.
Carter said he has found nothing easy about being president, but "I have not been miserable in the job."
"I might point point out that it is voluntary."
Earlier yesterday, Carter, along with Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Charles L. Schultze and inflation counselor Alfred Kahn, addressed about 1,000 high-level government employes at an anti-inflation forum. He urged them "to avoid as much as possible" the tendency of government officials to protect the outside interest groups with which they deal.
"Put yourself in my place," he said in an appeal for across-the-board restraint on government spending to curb inflation.
he president also urged the employes to root out any signs of fraud or corruption in their agencies.
"I do not intend to fail as president in making sure our government is efficient, competent and honest," he said.