JERUSALEM (Jan. 10)
Observers here believe that Washington received some kind of positive response to Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s Ideas as transmitted by U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger after his weekend meeting with the israeli Defense Minister. The positive response–though doubtless hedged by reservations–was what encouraged the Secretary to fly to Cairo. He is scheduled to be in the Egyptian capital Friday and then fly to Israel Saturday night. Kissinger will discuss the reservations with President Anwar Sadat and go through with the Egyptian leader the finer details of Dayan’s outline Idea (which of course he will not put forward as Dayan’s Idea but rather as the agreed “principles of disengagement”). Having achieved a knowledge of what Egypt will agree to–and having from his talks with Dayan a good knowledge of what Israel will agree to, as a result of his weekend talks. Kissinger will then fly to Jerusalem to set the seal of another round of personal diplomacy.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Israeli Fahmy will fly to Moscow for consultations with the Kremlin leaders, and when the Secretary leaves Israel the israel Cabinet will convene to hear reports of his talks both in Cairo and Jerusalem and to give its approval to the concrete details of the disengagement plan which will have emerged from the talks with Kissinger. This is the scenario. The formal disengagement agreement will be signed by the Foreign Ministers at the end of the month at Geneva–once a new and legal government is in office in israel and the opposition can no longer charge that it has no authority to engage in a major undertaking.
As if to stress that the plans Kissinger will bring to Egypt are not Dayan’s but rather Kissinger’s own, the Foreign Ministry spokesman–and Foreign Minister Abba Eban himself–stressed last night that the israel government bad not yet formulated a concrete plan and was awaiting Kissinger’s visit before doing so. Eban added that he welcomed Kissinger’s visit and efforts and hoped that as in the case of the six-point agreement his efforts would lead to successful conclusion of negotiations. Although the Foreign Ministry said israel did not formulate any definite proposal for disengagement of forces and was waiting for Kissinger’s visit, israel’s broad Ideas for disengagement, as discussed by Kissinger and Dayan in Washington involve:
“A phased israeli pullback from the west bank of the canal, and from the east bank to a line Just of the Mitla and Gidi Passes; the establishment of a demilitarized zone between israeli and Egyptian forces in Sinai; UNEF troops to take up positions in this demilitarized zone; a reduction and thinning out of Egyptian forces remaining on the east bank of the waterway; the gradual rehabilitation of the canal-side cities by Egypt; preparations by Egypt to reopen the canal to shipping–and its eventual reopening; a political gesture by Egypt in the form of a declaration of intent to refrain from hostilities; a declaration by israel recognizing that the Mitla-Gidi line is not to be the final line and will change with the advent of peace.”
These last two points are expected to be the subject of tough bargaining. While Egypt–and the superpowers–are keenly interested in a disengagement, Egypt suspects that israel intends the new (and militarily advantageous) lines to harden into a long-term arrangement. (it was this Egyptian suspicion which partly caused the failure of the essentially similar “partial settlement” initiative in 1971.) israel for its part is prepared to undertake that the disengagement lines will not be the final lines, but it wants the disengagement agreement to remain in force for some length of time as a ” probation period” of Egypt’s sincerity and intent.
Israel would see Egypt’s reopening of the canal and rehabilitation of the area during that period as a convincing sign of her good faith and intent to move towards peace. To this end, too, israel Is seeking some formal declaration by Egypt renouncing the war option. Obviously, a formal announcement terminating the state of belligerency would be premature from Egypt’s point of view, but Israel hopes for some lesser declaration of intent to maintain a cease-fire or abstain from active hostilities