JERUSALEM (May. 31)
Authoritative political analysts here differed with the interpretation offered by Premier Golda Meir of the new 15-year Soviet-Egyptian friendship and cooperation treaty announced in Cairo by Presidents Nikolai Podgorny and Anwar Sadat last week. They take the view that the pact is “definitely a Soviet success.. the first time Russia has taken on a commitment to provide Egypt with the means for offensive action, thereby strengthening Egyptian circles who hope for a military solution” of the Middle East conflict. Mrs. Meir, in Stockholm yesterday after attending the Socialist International conference in Helsinki, dismissed the treaty as “nothing new” and stated “it is our belief that the Soviet Union is not encouraging Egypt to go into a new war.” According to Mrs. Meir, Soviet aid to Egypt is hardly a new development. She observed that the most important points of the agreement “seem to be that the Soviet Union will continue to train Egyptian military personnel and provide them with new arms and there will be consultations. But,” she added, “this is nothing which is not already happening. The only reason (for the pact) is that there was evidently uncertainty on the Soviet side whether the relationship was going to remain or if there would be drastic changes” following Sadat’s ouster of pro-Moscow elements in the Egyptian political hierarchy.
But most Israeli analysts see the pact as a successful move by Moscow to draw Egypt more tightly into the Soviet orbit. According to these circles, the treaty means that “Egypt will support Russia in all her foreign policy interests and will not conclude any bilateral agreement with Communist China or the United States.” They furthermore consider the treaty to be “of a new type–an attempt to in still various forms of Soviet-Egyptian cooperation” and predicted an increase in Egyptian political activity in the form of threats based on a desire for a military solution. One highly respected expert on both Soviet and Middle Eastern affairs, Prof. Walter Z. Laqueur, said in an interview here yesterday that the Russians will now try to replace Sadat with the very pro-Moscow Egyptians he recently purged, Dr. Moshe Sneh, head of the anti-Moscow Maki Communist faction, thought the new pact reflected Kremlin fears that its investment in Egypt was endangered by the recent political events in Cairo. Acting Premier Yigal Allon said in a radio interview Saturday that the pact represented a diplomatic victory of the first magnitude for the Soviet Union and predicted–in disagreement with Mrs. Meir–that it would strengthen a hard line approach to Israel on the part of Sadat. He added that the new development would become an important bargaining point in the Big Four negotiations and in the United Nations.
Allon thought that President Sadat also realized a greater success than he expected because his regime has been firmly entrenched and he is now fully and publicly recognized by the Soviet Union as Egypt’s sole leader. Allon predicted that Cairo would strengthen its efforts to persuade the United States to exert pressure on Israel for further concessions and warned that if the U.S. gives in it would be a sign of weakness in Washington. He added that the new treaty gave “added validity to Israel’s request that the supply of desired armaments (from the U.S.) for deterrent purposes he continued without interruption.” The JTA was told by reliable sources today that “If the Americans are indeed dragging their feet about meeting our new arms requests, they will now have second thoughts.” The sources pointed out, however, that so far, the U.S. has not refused any Israeli requests for more arms aid and there have been no indications of pressure, although Washington has not yet responded to the latest requests. The sources added that in future arms contracts with the U.S. Israel would insist on longer term commitments than has been the custom up to now.