Why Haig may make 'patch up' visit to Israel
The United States is intensifying its efforts to repair damaged relations with Israel and to encourage progress in the long-stalled Palestinian ''autonomy'' talks between Israel and Egypt.
As part of a new US diplomatic drive in the Middle East, Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. is expected to fly next week to Jerusalem and Cairo following consultations in Brussels with the NATO allies over Poland.
In moving so rapidly to patch up relations with Israel after Israel's move to annex the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the United States seems to be motivated by several impulses, including perhaps first of all President Reagan's deep sympathy for Israel. The US also is determined to make certain that Israel goes ahead with its pledge to Egypt to withdraw from Sinai in April of this year. In contrast with Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, who appears to believe in taking a harder line toward Israel, Secretary of State Haig is said to believe that a generous and supportive attitude toward Israel is more likely to cause the Israelis to be forthcoming in their negotiations with the Egyptians.
At stake for the Israelis, among other things, could be a $300 million increase in loans for fiscal year 1983 now under consideration within the administration.
In return for a more understanding approach and restoration of the suspended memorandum of understanding on strategic cooperation between the US and Israel, Haig is looking to Israel for actions which would, in the American view, point toward Middle East peace. The US would like to see Israeli restraint in southern Lebanon and a reaffirmation of Israel's commitment to the Sinai withdrawal, autonomy talks, and United Nations Resolution 242. US officials profess already to see some positive signals from the Israelis on all of these.