Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Egyptian Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil agreed today to a U.S. proposal that they meet in Europe this weekend in an effort to resume the stalled Middle East peace talks.
Prime Minister Menachem Begin said the two will discuss "procedural matters and will nto hold negotiations." His statement seemed to be designed to caution aganist interpreting news of the meeting as a sign of progress in the stalemated talks with Egypt.
A Forign Ministry official said the meeting, initiated by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, probably will be held in Brussels. The official said Vance is expected to join the talks following a around of strategic arms limitation talks that begins Thursday in Geneva.
The Foreign Ministry source said Dayan and Khalil will focus on ways to revive the Mideast negotiations that broke off last week when Vance left Jerusalem to return to the United States after failing to persuade Israel to accept four Egyptian amendments to a draft treaty.
The surprise meeting was announced at a time when the Egyptian-Israeli peace process appeared to have reached an ebb. Israel's parliament has voted overhelmingly yesterday to reject Egypt's proposed treaty amendments, and to resist U.S. presure to accept a link between the Egypt-Israeli treaty and a broader framework for Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza.
In a move earlier in the day that had seemed to reflect the soured atmosphere, Israeli warplanes attacked Palestinian training bases in southern Lebanon. It was the first Israeli air raid against the guerrillas since the Camp David summit conference in September and the most extensive Israel said was a Palestinian naval base during heavy Syrian shelling of Christain militias in Beirut.
The air strike followed by four hours the explosion of a terrorist bomb outside a butcher shop in Jerusalem's Old City that injured four Arab and two Jewish civilians. The army said there have been 14 terror strikes in Israel since the beginning of November, killing four civilians and injuring 67.
As if to underscore the problem, and other bomb exploded tonight outside Herod's Gate, injuring two Israelis and two British tourist.
In Washington, the State Department deplored the bombings in Israel as well as the Israeli retaliatory raid, both of which spokesman Tom Reston called an "escalating spiral of violence (that) hurts the cause of peace in the Middle East."
[Egypt condemned the Israeli strike as a "threat to the current peace process" and added: "These aggressive acts contradict the spirit and letter of the Camp David peace agreements," UPI reported from Cairo.]
Among the bases attacked in Lebanon was Dahar Bourj, about five miles south of Sidon, which Israeli para-troopers and naval commandos raided June 9 killing at least eight Palestinians. Also struck were suspected Fatah terrorist bases at Bourj Chmali and Kassamieh. Fatah is the principal guerilla group of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
Israeli defense offcials declined to say how many war planes were involved in the 15-minute operation or how many casualties wre inflicted. They said all Israeli aircraft returned to base.
[A PLO statement in Beirut said two civilians were killed and 11 wounded in the strike by eight Israeli jets, which the PLO said strafed and rocketed two refugee camps and a village.]
In another sign of the strain created by the negotiating stalemate, an Israeli Defense Ministry official said the army has halted a pullout of no-nessential equipment from the Sinai Peninsula, begun two weeks ago in anticipation that the treaty with Egypt would be completed during December.
Israeli officials dened publicly that the orderm from Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, represented a form of political pressure on Egypt to abandon its four proposed amendments to the draft treaty that Israel has rejected despite pressure by the Carter administration. Government sources privately acknowledge, however, that the army's decision would at least serve as a signal to Egypt and the United States that Israeli evacuation from the Sinai is not as certain as it once seemed.
Under terms of the treaty, all Israeli forces were to have withdrawn within nine months after the signing from the western half of the Sinai, pulling back behind a line stretching roughly from E1 Arish in the north to Ras Mohammed in the south.
Defense officials said equipment that was being removed was nonoperational military gear used in support of army and air force installations in the peninsula, including movable structures, construction materials and equipment and barbed-wire fences.
"We started pulling out because we wanted to be on time when the treaty was signed," a defense source said today. "We wanted to show how serious we were about keeping on schedule.
"There's no reason to continue now," the official said. "The army all the time has something to do, and there isn't much point in continuing until negotiations start again."
Israeli officials have said they will not consider cresumption of the peace talks until Egypt clearly understands that Israel will not accept the proposed amendments. But Israeli sources said tonight that it is hoped that substantive peace negotiations can be resumed within two weeks.
Dayan is in Brussels on a previously scheduled trip to meet with European Common Market officials and to try to convince European leaders that Israel is not to blame for the breakdown in Middle East negotiations.
Vance is said to have first proposed the Dayan-Khalil meeting when he stopped off in Cairo and met Sadat on his way from Jerusalem to Washington. It was firmed up in telephone calls today from the secretary of state to Khalil and Begin, Israeli sources said.