JERUSALEM (Aug. 26)
All the territorial issues of the interim agreement between Israel and Egypt have been settled and negotiators hope the accord will be initialed by the weekend. This was reported as Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger left here for Egypt late this afternoon after a six-hour marathon session with Israel’s negotiating team.
Israeli sources said much of the time had been spent meticulously comparing Israeli and Egyptian drafts of the formal, public agreement between the two countries. Outstanding differences were few and minor, according to these sources. The negotiators are now reportedly concentrating on drafting the political commitments in the public and “secret” sections of the agreement.
The agreement on the territorial aspects was reached with one last Israeli concession–in the number of American-manned surveillance stations. Sources here revealed today that there would be two American-manned stations, instead of the four-to-six that Israel had originally proposed. There will, however, be several unmanned American “sensors”–information-gathering devices in addition to the two manned stations. Later, an Israeli source said there would be three stations. There will also be an American supervisory presence at Umm Hasheiba, the Israeli-manned surveillance station, and at the parallel Egyptian manned surveillance station, all in the United Nations buffer zone.
Egypt’s major concession during the Kissinger shuttle has been at Umm Hasheiba, where President Anwar Sadat has now acceded to Israel’s demand for continued Israeli manning of the key surveillance site northwest of the Gidi Pass. This, for Israel, had been a sine qua non for the accord.
The third key territorial issue, that of Egypt’s line of advance, was resolved yesterday in a compromise which was based on a major Egyptian concession and a more modest Israeli one. Egypt will not advance eastward beyond the present buffer, but it will advance some two kilometers southward at the southernmost tip of the present buffer.
This means that the top of the coastal corridor, which Israel is ceding to Egyptian civilian administration, will be incorporated in the Egyptian “limited forces zone” instead of in the area of civilian administration. The difference in practice is that Egypt will be able to keep troops in this area. It contains a road leading from the main Suez City-Abu Rodeis road to the seacoast, and Egypt was apparently keen to have this road under its military control.
‘SECRET’ PACT ELEMENTS UNDER REVIEW
Israeli sources characterized this minor Egyptian advance in the south as “an Israeli gesture.” The sources stressed that there would be no Egyptian advance beyond the buffer eastward, towards the Sinai heartland and the Negev. They pointed out that Egypt had originally demanded significant slices of land beyond the eastern edge of the present buffer but Israel had firmly and consistently rejected this.
With the lines now agreed upon, the negotiators have turned to painstaking review of the various public and “secret’ parts of the agreement. Last night and today they concentrated on the formal, public Israel-Egypt agreement. Differences in drafting that have so far surfaced over this were termed “minor and manageable” by Israeli sources.
But legal and political experts spent last night going over the clauses with a fine tooth comb. The results of their deliberations were discussed with Kissinger and his aides today and the Secretary was to communicate them to Alexandria today. If this phase can be concluded successfully, the talks will then move on, hopefully tomorrow, to discuss the “secret” U.S.-Israel agreement insofar as it contains unpublished Egyptian commitments to Israel through the U.S.
These include the pledge to renew the United Nations Emergency Force mandate for at least three more years and the undertakings to moderate economic and diplomatic action against Israel, The “secret” part of the pact will state clearly that the accord “stands on its own.” This is intended as a clear indication that there is no linkage between the Sinai pact and the future interim negotiation with Syria. If these can be completed Thursday, the weekend will be reserved for the bilateral Israel-U.S. elements of the “secret” accord–the assurances regarding Syria oil and Geneva.
OIL GUARANTEE ISSUE CONCLUDED
Israeli sources said late today that Israel and the U.S. had satisfactorily concluded the issue of U.S. guarantees for Israel’s oil supplies and U.S. compensation to Israel for Abu Rodeis and help in building a massive subterranean oil reservoir holding one year’s supply.
There will also be a separate special accord signed by Israel, Egypt and the U.S. providing for the U.S. presence in the Gidi and Mitle Passes. According to this timetable, and assuming all goes smoothly, the pacts could be initialed Friday or Saturday night.
All parties are interested in a speedy conclusion. Kissinger must return Sunday to address the United Nations Special Assembly in New York Monday–but he has reportedly indicated that he would return here if necessary.
WORK ON ‘TECHNICAL PROVISIONS’
Following the initialing, an Israel-Egypt working group of officers and officials will meet for some two to three weeks to draft the “technical provisions,” mainly military arrangements on the ground. Final signing will, at Israel’s insistence, be held only once the U.S. Congress has approved the American presence in the passes. Top Israeli sources hinted today that the signing might not take place at Geneva after all, but at a more modest venue in the Mideast area.