The Carter administration is asking Israel to commit itself to jetting Palestinians vote for local governing councils on the West Bank a year after the signing of an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, informed sources disclosed yesterday.
The proposal is part of a new U.S. bid to break the negotiating impasse that has developed around Egyptian demands for a precise timetable for West Bank negotiations. The United States presented its version of a draft peace treaty and a timetable compromise to Egypt and Israel this week. U.S. officials said yesterday.
U.S. drafts for a preamble, a treaty and an accompanying letter dealing with the West Bank negotiations attempt to bridge Israel's rejection of any formal linkage of the treaty and the West Bank talks, and Egypt's demand for commitments on that subject.
The previously undisclosed Egyptian demand conveyed to the Carter administration and to Israel last week, was that Israel agree to abolish its military government on the West Bank and help set up local administration councils within five months of the signing of the treaty according to informed sources.
Over the weekend, Secretary of State of Cyrus R. Vance negotiated with both sides in Washington and worked [WORD ILLEGIBLE] the U.S. draft which is under consideration in Jerusalem and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] Egyptian Vice President [WORD ILLEGIBLE] is due to arrive in Washington today, evidently to give President Carter a direct answer from Egypt on the latest U.S plan.
[President Anwar Sadat reportedly indicated yesterday that he might be willing to soften his insistence that the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty be tied to a timetable for the establishment of Palestinian automomy on the West Bank. Instead, he indicated to members of his National Democratic Party that he might limit his demands to an Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip, an apparent easing of his position in what has become the most serious obstacle to the conclusion of a treaty.]
Sadat said in Ismalia yesterday that he was sending Mobarak with a message for Carter now that the month-old talks on the peace treaty agreed to in principle at the Camp David summit in September have reached "a turning point."
Carter discussed the Middle East in detail yesterday during an hour and a half of talks at the White House with Morocco's King Hassan II, one of Sadat's closest allies.
Carter singled out for special praise Hassan's support for Sadat's "peace initiative," which has been greeted with hostility or silence in most of the rest of the Arab world. The king has "shown great courage in trying to retain the cohesion of the Arab world and at the same time be forceful" in supporting Sadat, Carter said.
U.S. oficials went into the meeting uncertain whether Hassan would discuss his long-pending requests for arms that the administration has been unwilling to supply unless Morocco pledges not to use them in the guerrilla war being fought in the ex-Spanish Sahara territory now ruled by Morocco and Mauritania.
Israeli and Egyptian negotiating teams reached agreement on a draft treaty nearly two weeks ago in Washington, but the entire question was reopened when the Israeli cabinet rejected the treaty preamble language linking the pact to the West Bank negotiations.
Moving after Arab hardliners had denounced Egypt at the Baghdad conference, Sadat increased his demands for linkage by sending acting Foreign Minister Boutros Ghali back to Washington to ask for a firm commitment from Israel that Palestinian councils would be set up within five months and that Israel would then begin pulling out 40 percent of its troops from the West Bank.
The 40 percent figure was agreed upon at the Camp David summit, according to a U.S. official.
Some details of the new American draft were mentioned in a Hebrew language newscast on Radio Israel yesterday and confirmed independently in Washington. According to Radio Israel, the United States is pushing for the holding of West Bank elections before the end of 1979.
Talks on holding the elections would begin one month after the peace treaty is signed, but the responsiblilities and jurisdictions of the Palestinian councils would not be discussed until close to the date of the elections.
Israeli cabinet ministers who have balked at supporting Prime Minister Menachem Begin on the draft treaty say they fear that formal linkage would give West Bank Palestinians and Jordan's King Hussein a way to block not only negotiations on the West Bank by refusing to take part but also a lever for upsetting the Egyptian-Israeli treaty.
U.S. and Israeli officials reportedly are not certain whether Sadat's sudden hardening of demands is primarily a tactical move or represents a new substantive shift by the Egyptian leader after the Baghdad conference.
There is increasing concern in the three delegations that the negotiations may have to be prolonged beyond the Dec. 17 deadline Sadat and Begin imposed on themselves at Camp David, and there is discussion in some quarters that a new three-way summit maybe needed if the linkage deadlock continues to block the signing of the treaty.