TEL AVIV (May. 27)
Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili, one of Premier Golda Meir’s closest confidants, said today that an interim solution for reopening the Suez Canal would probably be shelved for some time. Speaking to a group of journalists, Galili said Egyptian President Anwar Sadat apparently wants time to gain more maneuverability following his crushing of an alleged pro-Soviet in-government conspiracy, and to do that must consolidate his still-shaky hold. Political circles in Jerusalem added that Israel believes Sadat will have his hands full seeking to strengthen his grip on the government, at least until the July 23 elections of the Arab Socialist Union, Egypt’s only political party. Israel believes Sadat cannot afford to engage in any military adventure now, especially as another Egyptian defeat would be disastrous for him. The U.S., in fact, has asked Israel to “show understanding for Sadat’s delicate position,” the sources said.
Galili seemed to be cautioning Washington on this point today when, asked about Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s fear that U.S. arms may be more difficult as the time goes on, he commented: “I hope our American friends will not let us down.” Sadat conferred in Cairo last night with Soviet President Nikolai V. Podgorny. They agreed on continued Kremlin aid to Egypt and renewed efforts to “liberate” the occupied Arab territories. Concurrently, Soviet Ambassador Vladimir M. Vinogradov told the ASU newspaper Al Gomhouria that the USSR had provided Egypt with $720 million in aid over the past decade and has promised another $500 million over the next five years. The two government set up special subcommittees to discuss mutual political and military matters. Vinogradov also told the Cairo paper that “it is possible to achieve a political solution (in the Mideast) if efforts are stepped up.” Those efforts, he said, “should exceed all that have so far been exerted.”