WASHINGTON (Mar. 5)
As Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger left tonight for his eleventh trip to the Middle East to seek a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, a diplomatic source here offered his assessment of chances on this visit for another Israeli-Egyptian agreement as being 50-50. The optimistic 50, he noted, is that Israel will code the Abu Rodeis oil fields and the Mitle and Gidi Passes in the Sinai for an agreement with Egypt that will include non-belligerency by Egypt. The negative 50 is that nobody knows what the Egyptian government is willing to do.
The high expectations prevailing in the Egyptian media of Egypt regaining the Sinai passes and oil fields is based on the calculation of Cairo propagandists that if a settlement does not take place on Egyptian terms, Israel can then be charged with intransigence. Israel is insisting, the source said, that the Egyptian government publicly and directly inform its people that if Israel gives up the passes and oil fields. It is not an act of surrender of what Egyptians may think is rightfully theirs but a step in the direction of peace for which Egypt must provide some elements of non-belligerency.
The next Israeli-Egyptian agreement must contain “visible parts” of a contract between two nations that are mutually obligated and jointly signed, the source observed. Non-belligerency includes such factors as an end to war and blockade and economic warfare. But not all these factors need be “visible” in the public contract.
THREE ELEMENTS INVOLVED
Three elements are involved in Israel’s position, it was noted. One is that Israel requires a political guarantee for oil to compensate for what it is now getting in the Sinai if Iran, in time of war or crisis, should limit or stop its supply. The cost of oil to replace the Sinai supply at current prices is between $250 million and $300 million annually.
A second element is that when the parties finally reach Geneva for a lasting settlement, Egypt cannot be in a position to renegotiate any agreement it now may make with Israel. A third element is that Israel, assuming that the area it evacuates in the Sinai will be demilitarized, wants the United Nations force that will occupy the areas to be from nations with the means and willingness to remain there indefinitely.
Furthermore, only the UN Security Council should have power to withdraw the UN force rather than have the authority, as at present, to extend it if both parties, are willing. This will mean that the United States, if it wishes, could veto a move in the Council to have the force withdrawn and thereby clear the way for hostilities. Withdrawal of UN forces in 1967 at Egypt’s behest was a factor in the origins of the Six-Day War. Withdrawal of UN forces now would result in similar hostilities, the source noted.
AMERICAN UNITS ACCEPTABLE
Israel would, according to the source, agree to American units in the form of observers in the occupying UN force but not Soviet military units in any capacity. Israel opposes a U.S.-Soviet guarantee of a settlement. In the Israeli view, the source said, such a dual arrangement is unworkable. With their basically opposing strategic interests, the superpowers will be unable to agree on incidents that will occur. If each superpower would have authority to make sole decisions on incidents, a Soviet ally could receive legitimacy to take action it thought worthwhile.
A U.S. guarantee would be meaningful only as a supplement to a final settlement and not as a substitute for it, the source said. This also is the official American view. The outpouring of U.S. arms to the Arab countries has not yet upset the military balance but the programmed sales of even greater amounts will shatter the balance and Israel then could rightly ask for more American equipment, the source stated.