WASHINGTON (Sep. 8)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger bid today for massive American support to the U.S. participation he has committed in his mediation for a second-stage Israeli withdrawal in Sinai. Appearing before the House international Relations Committee, Kissinger outlined in words and with maps what the agreement between Israel and Egypt entails and declared “We can take pride in the fact that we are the party both sides have confidence in.”
Kissinger warned that “The process of peace in the Middle East is not a matter that occurs thousands of miles away but which affects every.
American. The agreement could open the way to peace in the whole area.” He had warned earlier that war and economic dislocations could follow if the U.S. effort for the agreement failed.
The Committee voted prior to Kissinger’s remarks that it would go into closed session after his opening statement. Rep. Thomas Morgan. (D. Pa.), chairman of the Committee, said that “some” of Kissinger’s information “is very sensitive.”
Kissinger stressed that the total number of American technicians to serve in Sinai between Egyptian and Israeli lines would not exceed 200 and not more than 75 would be at the warning stations at any one time. The technicians, he emphasized, will not be there to serve one side or the other “in contrast to Vietnam.” While both Egypt and Israel wanted the Americans there he said Israel would not sign the agreement if they were not placed.
REASSESSMENT WAS PRESSURE MECHANISM
In discussing financial assistance, Kissinger hinted that the reassessment policy the U.S. had employed mainly against Israel after his failure to bring about an agreement in March was designed as a pressure mechanism.
Noting that Congress has consistently backed financial aid to Israel, Kissinger said his program for Israel will include funds in view of her withdrawal and her military and economic needs. As for Egypt, he said, it was “important to take into account Egypt’s economic needs” because of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s “moderation.”
Without specifying figures, Kissinger said his request to Congress for Israel will be less than Israel’s needs going up to $3.3 billion. He did not mention Egypt’s requirement but last week at the White House Congressional leaders were told the non-military package for Cairo would be between $650-$800 million. For Israel, the aid would be for both military and economic purposes a billion less than Israel was seeking or $2.2-$2.3 billion.
SIGNS OF RAPPROCHEMENT
Another sign of the rapprochement in American-Israeli relations is the visits here in the coming weeks and months of Defense Minister Shimon Peres, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and Premier Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin is expected in Washington, possibly in November, for talks with President Ford following the visit here by Egyptian President Sadat in October. Allon, who goes to New York to head the Israeli delegation to the United Nations General Assembly at the end of this month, is expected to hold talks with Kissinger in New York and in Washington.
Peres is expected here next week to shop for sophisticated American weapons. During the reassessment period, the U.S. refused to provide new contracts to Israel while dealing with Arab countries, including Jordan. It is now reported, however, that the Israeli arms procurement program is about to go forward with the acquisition of F-15 fighter planes to match the Soviet MIG-23s in Egyptian hands, hundreds of tanks to defend Sinai east of the Mitle and Gidi Passes, and surface-to-surface missiles.