Egypt views Haig visits as ineffective
Cairo — The just-concluded US mission to Egypt and Israel has failed to lay the basis for successful talks on Palestinian autonomy.
This is the view of some key Egyptian foreign-policymakers, who say that Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr.'s visit to the Middle East was ill-timed.
The Haig visit was an attempt to revive talks and to work out a compromise formula to grant autonomy to more than 1 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. But the fruits of those talks were not especially promising.
The whole venture ''might have been prompted by Haig's apprehension and fear of Israeli surprises,'' said Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, referring to Israel's recent proclamation of sovereignty over the Golan Heights.
The surpises Israel might spring, he told the Monitor, include moves in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip like those in the Golan Heights, or a renewal of raids on Palestinian strongholds in southern Lebanon.
But a member of Haig's party gave a different view of the motives behind Haig's trip: He said the fact-finding mission followed a review of US policy in the area, and was a ''sincere expression of his readiness to exert personal efforts to improve the US image here.''
The Egyptian view is that Haig believes that as the date for Israel's pullout from Sinai (April 25) approaches, both Egypt and Israel are feeling tense. Therefore the time is ripe to try to squeeze concessions that the two countries were not willing to make before.
But instead of compromising, Egypt and Israel are proving to be inflexible.
Israel refuses to allow 100,000 Palestinians living in east Jerusalem any right to participate in the ''autonomous council'' Israel would set up to govern the territories. (This is because Israel considers east Jerusalem a part of Israel proper.) But Egypt demands that the Palestinians be involved in the autonomy plan as a condition for signing an autonomy agreement.
Many Egyptian officials say Haig's visit is a reflection of an inconsistent and unstructured US approach to the Middle East, something they believe has marked the administration's outlook from the outset.
Some of these officials see the sudden renewal of US interest in the region as an attempt to make up for the time when the Palestinian issue was on the US backburner, a time the Reagan administration regarded the Palestinian autonomy talks as a ''spectator rather than a 'full partner.' ''
They say Haig's talks seemed to mark a new approach to dealing with Egypt using the carrot and the stick simultaneously. Officials involved in the talks said the US secretary assured Egypt that Israeli troops will withdraw and made a point of guaranteeing European participation in the peace-keeping force that would be stationed in the border area.
He also hinted, they said, that unless Egypt calmed Israel's fears about Egypt reneging on peace-treaty commitments when it regains its territories, Israel might adopt measures to annex the West Bank and Gaza.
The Egyptian view is that Egypt should not succumb to any such pressures - pressures stemming of what it believes are Reagan attempts to sweeten US relations with Israel that soured over the Golan annexation and US determination to supply AWACS to Saudi Arabia.
The talks showed Haig's team had yet to acquaint itself with the intricacies of the Palestinian problem, but that its decision to move on this front signifies the Reagan administration is slowly coming to grips with what Egypt regards as the key to stability in the region.