JERUSALEM (Jul. 8)
Egypt has agreed to include in any interim accord reached with Israel a secret undertaking that the accord would be in effect for three years, it was learned from reliable sources here today. The sole remaining points still at issue are the exact lines to which Israeli forces would be pulled back under the terms of an accord and the fate of the electronic surveillance stations on which Israel presently relies for advance warning of a possible Egyptian attack, the source said.
Neither of these points is a minor one. In the on going bargaining, Israel is seeking to retain some foothold in the strategic Mitle and Gidi Passes. The government is still not satisfied that it knows precisely what Egypt’s position is.
Cairo flatly rejected an Israeli proposal offered by Premier Yitzhak Rabin in Washington last month but has not yet responded with a definitive proposal of its own indicating exactly what it means by “passes,” “entrances to passes” and “slopes,” Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, who returned to Washington yesterday after consultation here, was instructed to find out from Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger precisely what the Egyptians regard as the components of an interim accord. (See separate story.)
The sources said that if the matters of withdrawal and surveillance are resolved, it was highly unlikely that the talks for an interim agreement would founder on any of the other issues outstanding. The matter of surveillance, however, is a ticklish one. The sources indicated that a proposal has been put to Israel for U.S. personnel to man the surveillance stations on the heights overlooking the Sinai passes.
SOME MISGIVINGS ABOUT PROPOSAL
Some Israeli policy makers and army officers have sharp misgivings about that proposal. They recall that following the August, 1970 cease-fire which ended the war of attrition in the Sues Canal zone, American intelligence deliberately turned a blind eye when the Egyptians promptly violated the agreement by advancing Soviet-made SAM missiles into the demilitarized zone–despite incontrovertible evidence by Israeli intelligence and protests from Jerusalem. One high ranking Israeli officer remarked recently that no army in the world would put its faith in a third power to fulfill a watchdog role.
Egypt’s agreement to a three-year duration for an interim accord is regarded nevertheless as a major breakthrough. There would also be an initial implementation period of about 18 months. According to the sources the formal agreement between Israel and Egypt would state that both sides regarded the agreement as effective until superceded by a subsequent agreement and that both sides agreed to renew the mandate of the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) for one year. The secret protocol, however, would contain undertakings to renew the UNEF presence for two further annual extensions–three years in all, the sources said.