Egyptian-Israeli negotiations on an autonomy plan for the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip resumed here today for a third session, with both sides still struggling to agree on an agenda of items to be discussed.
Led by Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil, the Egyptian delegation was said to have focused its attention on broad principles and philosphical definitions about which direction the talks should take. Sources said the Israelis attempted to offer concrete proposals, starting with the proposed election of an administrative councilfor occupied territories.
The U.S. delegation, led by Ambassador-at-Large James Leonard, stayed in the background for most of the three hours of deliberations, injecting comments only during the afternoon session.
Dan Pattir, Israeli spokesman, said, "No proposals were made in a formal, printed way today," although, he said "objectives and principles" were discussed.
Employing the usual diplomatic characterizations of "productive" and "serious" discussions, Pattir said, "The whole work concentrated on reaching agreement on a subject agenda."
The delegations have met twice previously, once in Beersheba in a largely ceremonial session, and again in Alexandria.
The Egyptian delegation, which also includes Deputy Foreign Minister Butros Ghali and Defense Minister Kamel Hassan Ali, arrived here at midmorning after being greeted at Ben Gurion airport by the Israeli team, led by Interior Minister Yosef Burg.
Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, who quit the delegation after objecting to the controversial Elon Moreh settlement in the West Bank and triggering a personal feud with Prime Minister Menachem Begin, visited the conference hotel to meet with Ali.
Burg, in the opening session today, indicated that Israel is satisfied with the U.S. role in the talks, saying it had been clarified in an exchange of letters.
A U.S. delegation spokesman said later, "at this stage, we feel our most constructive role is not to make proposals. (But) we reserve the right to make proposals or suggestions when we feel this is necessary."
The talks will resume Tuesday, but diplomatic sources said they doubted any substantive progress would be made before Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat meet in Alexandria early next month.