Supervision of the demilitarized Sinai Peninsula, the sale of oil to Israel and dormant negotiations on Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip will dominate the agenda when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin meet Tuesday in Haifa.
Sadat's visit, his third to Israel, is viewed here as important not only to keep alive the Egyptian-Israeli peace initiative, but to divert attention from acrimony between Israel and the United States over Palestinian rights and Israel's role in southern Lebanon.
Begin's advisers hope that by offering tangible evidence at the end of the three-day visit that progress is being made toward antonomy for 1.2 million Palestinians in the occupied territories, Israel might slow the momentum of growing sympathy in Europe and the United States with the Palestinian statehood movement.
It is widely feared here that if statehood for Palestinians becomes a popular cause in the United States in an election year, Israel will find it increasingly difficult to withstand pressure to talk with the Palestine Liberation Organization. It is also widely believed that the appearance of progress in the moribund autonomy talks is crucial to placating world opinion on the Palestinian issue.
A measure of Israel's concern over the Haifa summit is the scheduled participation of Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, who has conspicuously stayed away from the autonomy negotiations. He is reportedly dissatisfied with the negotiating committee's lack of authority to make bargaining proposals not approved by the full Cabinet.
Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Interior Minister Yosef Burg, chairman of the autonomy committee, will also be in Haifa. Egyptian Defense Minister Kamel Hassan Ali will be the highest-ranking official accompanying Sadat, who will arrive at the Israeli port aboard his yacht.
Although Palestinian autonomy talks began May 25, Israel and Egypt have agreed on no substantive issues. Begin is known to be eager to give the talks a push in preparation for the sixth round scheduled for Sept. 15 in Alexandria.
Government sources said it is likely that Begin and Sadat will discuss a proposal to change the status of the Gaza Strip first, setting aside for later consideration the thornier problem of the West Bank.
If the two leaders make progress on that issue it would come as no surprise at the end of the Haifa visit if an announcement were made of a schedule for withdrawing the military headquarters from the town of Gaza, as the first step toward implementing autonomy there.
There have also been persistent but unconfirmed reports that Sadat's visit will culminate with the announcement that another tripartite summit with President Carter will take place sometime in the fall.
Sadat is also said to be determined to raise the issue of East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after the 1967 Six-Day War.
He reportedly will insist that the Arab residents of East Jerusalem have a right to vote in the planned elections for a self-governing council on the West Bank, a position Begin has rejected because he regards East Jerusalem as a part of Israel and not occupied territory.
Other issues that Israel sources say will be the focus of the Haifa talks:
The transfer of the Alma oil fields in the Sinai to Egypt, and Egypt's pledge to sell oil to Israel, which has relied on the Alma fields for a fifth of its needs. Egypt wants to sell 10.5 million barrels annually, while Israel wants all of the 14 million barrels produced each year.
The dispute over peacekeeping supervision in the Sinai, now that Israel is withdrawing its Army. With expiration of the U.N. emergency force mandate, unarmed observers from the U.N. Truce Supervising Organization have been taking over against Israel's wishes. On proposal that may be discussed in Haifa is a joint Egyptian-Israeli constabular force to augment the UNTSO contingent.
A proposal to advance by two months the date for withdrawal from the third sector of the Sinai, which includes St. Katherine's Monastery, the site on Mount Sinai traditionally thought to have been where Moses received the Ten Commandments. Israelis would be assured access.
Sadat is scheduled to arrive in Haifa at noon Tuesday. His yacht will be escorted by Egyptian naval vessels and welcomed in Israeli territorial waters by Israeli Navy boats.
The leaders are scheduled to have two-hour working sessions on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Sadat is scheduled to visit Mount Carmel, an electronics factory and a food-processing plant before leaving Thursday.