President Anwar Sadat has expressed determination that the Egyptian-Isreali negotiations on Palestinian autonomy "will never collaspe," despite the current suspension and failure to make significant progress within the year allotted for their completion.
But he added that the United States must come forward with its own proposals to break the deadlock that has prevented the Egyptian and Israeli governments from meetng Monday's target date for agreement on ways to set up an elected Palestinian authority to administer the occupied West Bank of the Jordan River and Gasza Strip under full autonomy.
"That is what I am asking now," Sadat said in an interview with Katharine Graham, chairman of the Washington Post Co., on the eve of the deadline. "You know both positions. You are a full partner. It is time that you come with a paper, come with certain proposals for both sides. It may be an American paper, an American proposal, or American efforts between us and Israel to find some compromise in between so that we can proceed with the talks."
The desire for a more active American role has been a constant feature of Egyptian policy during the year of autonomy negotiations. Sadat's comments marked the first time, however, that he has called publicly and in such an explicit manner for the United States to make its own position the basis for further talks.
This was a major part of his message to President Carter delivered in Washington this weekend by Vice President Hosni Mubarak's brief also included Egyptian demands for U.S. included Egyptians demands for U.S. guarantees that Isreal will show more flexibility on West Bank settlements and Jerusalem, he said, particularly concerning an Israeli draft law on the Holy City that led Sadat to suspend the talks 10 days ago.
"There should be no preconditions for any party," he said, "from us or from them. But this way of trying to make a law in the Kensset regarding Jerusalem creates a sort precondition. That is what I am asking only. No party should put preconditions or pressures on the other, and let us continue the talks."
This comment, and Sadat's relaxed tone in a two-hour conversation in his home village of Mit Abul-Kum in the Nile Delta strongly indicated that he is prepared to resume negotiating with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin's government as soon as the United States responds to the demands relayed by Mubarak.
Puffing on his pipe and sitting on rattan garden furniture on a terrace outside his home, Sadat responded easily to questions while a half-dozen of his chief ministers met inside waiting for him to join them for a Cabinet session on Egypt's internal problems.
As he has in the past, Sadat emphasized that the new era of relations with Israel begun by his November 1977 trip to Jerusalem and codified in the March 1979 peach treaty has become irreversible. He said this makes a total breakdown of the autonomy talks impossible despite the current tensions and the prospect of more dealy pending U.S. elections in November.
Egyptian Foreign Ministry officials, in fact, have suggested that the government expects little progress in the talks before the American elections. gSome say the situation will probably stay frozen until there is a change of government in Isreal. Sadat, who was speaking before the resignation of Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, did not address the issue directly in his public remarks but insisted that in any case the process will continue.
"It will not collapse," he declared. "It will never collapse, for the very simple reason that between Egypt and Israel there is a treaty now, there are good relations, there is good neighborliness, there is a table around which we sit even if we are different. We sit together to discuss things."
At the same time, however, Sadat sharply criticized Israel's tough attitude in the negotiations, saying delay in reaching an autonomy agreement is alienating the Moslem world from Egypt and the United States and creating opportunities for the Soviet Union to gain influence at U.S. expense.
"And for that I am telling the Israelis from time to time -- and you should tell them -- that they shouldn't adopt such selfish policies like this. Because instead of bringing 800 million Moslems to our camp, through their attirude -- their selfish, egoist policies, the Israelis -- we are losing 800 million Moslems," he said.
Sadat emphasized repeatedly his concerns about Soviet moves in the Middle East and Africa and his desire to see Egypt play an increasing role in countering them as part of a strategic alignment with the United States. On several occasions, he suggested that the Carter administration is reacting too softly to the threat posed by what he called "Soviet penetration," in the area.
"The Soviet Union is gaining now, step by step, bit by bit," he said. "You shouldn't allow this. This should be a new planning."
To reinforce his point, he clapped his hands twice and, when a white-jacketed factotum appeared, Sadat called for an illuminated globe. After the servant placed it on a table, its plug and electric cord dangling, Sadat used his pipe cleaner to trace a crescent from northeast Africa through the Persian Gulf to Iran. This, he said, is the area of the greatest Soviet threat and where "it is time that you resumed your responsibilities" as a superpower.
The best way to do that, he suggested, is to strengthen U.S. allies in the region, particularly Egypt, with military and economic aid along lines of the "lend-lease" program that supported European allies in World War II.Egypt is ideally suited for this role, he said, because of its location and military potential.
After Iran now has vanished, [Egypt] is the only country that can raise an army with every new armament," he said. "We have fought the October  war. We have fought the first missile and electronic war with Israel. This is Egypt . . . I can raise a million-soldier army. Yes, I have the potentialities."
The United States has made Egypt its major Middle Eastern ally besides Israel since the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was ousted from the Iranian throne last year. Washington has agreed on a military aid program to refit the Egyptian Army and Air Force with the most modern equipment, estimated to cost about $4 billion over five years.
In return, Sadat has granted military facilities to U.S. forces. American planes regularly use the Qena Air Base in Upper Egypt, and U.S. C130 transport planes refueled there on the way to the failed rescue mission in Iran.
But Sadat seemed to urge even larger scale cooperation. He underlined his need for warships with enough range to reach Oman and Somalia, two of the three Arab League members along with Sudan that have retained relations with Egypt despite the treaty with Israel.
"Let us sit together and have a common strategy together," he said. "I want to reach Somalia, and I want to reach Oman."
The United States reportedly has told Sadat that, within the limits of aid decided for Egypt, he cannot afford warships while at the same time receiving all the other American equipment he wants, such as F16 and Phantom fighters and M60 battle tanks.
Sadat also suggested that the U.S. response to aid requests from other pro-Western countries such as Pakistan and Somalia has been inadequate. This is particularly true of Somalia, he said, where the United States is seeking military facilities at the port of Berbera opposite South Yemen.
The Egyptian leader said he had urged Somali President Mohammed Siad Barre to expel his Soviet advisers in 1977 with assurances that U.S. aid would take the place of the Soviets.
"The man is screaming for hlep," he said. "Until this moment, nothing."
Sadat said Egypt has recovered from the Arab aid cutoff imposed after his treaty with Israel. He admitted for the first time, however, that the past year was made difficult because the Arab funds stopped flowing.
"It would have been dangerous -- not dangerous but devastatingly dangerous -- if it wasn't for your help last year," he said. "Last year was the bottleneck for us. Thank God, thanks to your help, U.S., Germany, Japan, the Western world, mainly the United States, we have overcome the difficulties. And starting from the budget this year, we shall not depend on anyone in the Arab world."
The president said he did want to quarrel with his fellow Arab leaders about their opposition to his peace policies. But he insisted, nevertheless, that they, not he, are isolated because of their boycott of Egypt.
He was particularly critical of King Hussein of Jordan, whom he accused of playing an "opportunistic" role in refusing to participate in the Camp David process. Beneath Hussein's policies, he said, lies a secret desire to create, a united Hashemite kingdom embracing the West Bank as well as Jordan.
"In the open, he is a patriotic and enthusiastic Arab," Sadat said, laughing in apparent scorn, "to the extent that he killed two PLO members when they made an operation in Isreal and they came out through the borders of Jordan. He killed them."
"He wants to take them [the Palestinians]," he added. "He wants to swallaow them."