Israel Awaiting U.S. Assessment of Egypt-soviet Friendship Pact

Israeli leaders are waiting for Washington’s assessment of the new 15 year treaty of friendship and cooperation signed in Cairo last week by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and President Nikolai V. Podgorny of the Soviet Union. The official American view of the pact is expected to be conveyed to Jerusalem after U.S. officials complete their careful combing of the text for hidden meanings, trends and implications. It appears to some observers, however, that Israel intends to use the Egyptian-Soviet treaty to try to drive a wedge between Washington and Cairo which, up until last week, seemed on the verge of a diplomatic rapprochement. Israeli circles believe the Egyptians are busy transmitting urgent messages to the Americans, through the U.S. Charges d’Affaires in Cairo, Donald Bergus, and through other channels, to assure them that Egypt remains wholly sovereign, that its foreign policies have not been changed by the treaty and that the pact itself only formalizes an existing relationship with Moscow. Israeli circles say that if Washington accepts this line it would encourage still closer links between Cairo and Moscow and disappoint Egyptian elements which Israelis believe were “shocked” by Sadat’s swift acquiescence to a treaty dictated by Moscow.

The Israeli view, which is apparently being pressed on Washington, is that the Russians “grabbed Sadat by the throat” and forced him to very nearly mortgage Egypt to them for the next 15 years in return for the weapons and training needed by the Army, now Sadat’s political mainstay, with the ultimate aim of pushing Israel back to its pre-June, 1967 borders. According to the Israelis, the Egyptian-Soviet pact shatters the image, diligently cultivated by Cairo, that Sadat is a strong-willed, right-thinking moderate, eager above all to forge new ties with the U.S. and to reach an honorable peace agreement with Israel. Israel Galili, a Minister-Without-Portfolio, claimed last night that the Cairo-Moscow pact was no mere formalization of an existing relationship, a line Premier Golda Meir seemed to take in her first reaction to the treaty from Stockholm where she was visiting last week. Galili claimed that the treaty clause calling for Russian aid in Egyptian military exercises could serve to mask serious Soviet coordination with Egypt in actual military operations. Galili told a Labor Party meeting at Nes Ziona that it would be an error for Israel to underestimate the significance of the new pact.

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