JERUSALEM (Feb. 17)
Israeli officials here reiterated today that Israel insists on a direct and signed Egyptian undertaking to end the state of war in exchange for a substantial Sinai pull-back embracing the Mitle and Gidi passes and Abu Rodeis oil fields. The officials were responding to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s suggestion, issued during an interview in today’s Washington Post, that “if a third party comes in between to guarantee both of us (Egypt and Israel) during negotiations, very well.”
Sadat noted that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger can serve as the “most qualified” third party to guarantee Arab non-belligerency and Israeli willingness to yield Arab land captured in 1987. During the interview in Cairo with Philip L. Geyelin, Sadat also stated that he rejects a written non-belligerency pact with Israel but restated a pledge not to attack Israel while the search for settlement in the Mideast continues.
Israeli officials said that indirect undertakings to third parties could be useful as additional means of strengthening an accord, but the basis of an accord had to be direct undertakings from each party to the other in a formal and binding way.
During yesterday’s Cabinet meeting the ministerial negotiating team that met with Kissinger here last week reported on the talks. Israeli officials said later that the Cabinet was advised that the practical process of negotiations for a second-stage Israeli-Egyptian agreement in Sinai has not begun. They said the talks with Kissinger, just ended, were intended to examine various aspects and points of view in preparation for the next round of talks when the Secretary returns to the Middle East next month.
The officials reported that none of the ministers briefed asked for a general political discussion and no date for such a discussion has been set by the Cabinet. Government secretary Gershon Avner told journalists that reports in the media here and abroad that there was a divergence of opinion among the Israeli ministers who negotiated with Kissinger were baseless. He said that no new Egyptian ideas for a settlement were brought up or discussed by the Cabinet.