Egypt’s Hard-line Toward Israel Seen As Part of Power Struggle

Egyptian spokesmen have reverted in the past few days to an increasingly hard line toward Israel coupled with statements that they will not extend the 90-day Suez truce beyond its Nov. 5 deadline unless Israel agrees to return to the Jarring talks on Egypt’s terms. The new line is in sharp contrast to the temperate statements that emerged from Cairo immediately after the death of President Gamal Abdel Nasser on Sept. 28. Israeli sources said. At that time Egyptian leaders indicated that they favored an extension of the cease-fire. Israeli circles interpret the hard line as an effort by Egyptian leaders who are uncertain of their political future in the post-Nasser era to prove their loyalty. Evidence is mounting here of a bitter power struggle in Cairo but it is not yet clear which factions and personalities are clashing or what role the Soviet Union is playing. Against the background of an Egyptian-Soviet political offensive against Israel in the United Nations General Assembly this week, Israeli sources are Interpreting the remarks of Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad as an attempt to force Israel to accept the Jarring talks without Egyptian rectification of its cease-fire violations.

Mr. Riad. who claimed that all of the Soviet missiles in the standstill cease-fire zone were there when the truce began Aug. 7, said that Egypt had no interest in maintaining the cease-fire beyond its Nov. 5 deadline unless it became evident that a serious effort was being made to reach a settlement and that Dr. Jarring was prepared to resume his stewardship of the Arab-Israeli indirect peace talks. Mr. Riad said on a television interview Oct. 6 that if the Jarring talks failed to resume it was Egypt’s national duty to liberate the territories occupied by Israel. He said Egypt did not agree to the principal of a permanent cease-fire, adding that Egypt would resume shooting at “a time and circumstances convenient to her.” The Israel government has re-affirmed its readiness to extend the cease-fire although it will not return to the Jarring talks until the missiles allegedly installed by Egypt in the truce zone are removed. From Israel’s point of view a cease-fire of indefinite duration is preferable to one with a time limit but it will not acquiesce to a cease-fire that permits the other side to improve its military position. Some observers here believe that Egypt is not likely to start shooting as soon as the 90-day truce expires if only to protect its newly installed missiles from Israeli at attacks. The Egyptian attitude however has always been opposed to an unlimited cease-fire on grounds that it would imply acceptance of Israel’s occupation of the Sinai.

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