UNITED NATIONS (Sep. 30)
The rift between Cairo and Damascus over the new interim accord Egypt signed with Israel emerged in the General Assembly this afternoon when the Egyptian delegate sharply criticized a Syrian attack on the agreement. Egypt’s Ambassador to the UN. Abdel Meguid, stated that a speech by the Syrian Foreign Minister, Abdul Halim Khaddam, assailing the Sinai agreement as a “temporary truce” that threatens the Middle East with a now explosion, represented the views of the Syrian Baath Party, not of the Syrian government. Meguid took the floor immediately after the Syrian spoke.
Observers here could not recall a previous instance of public criticism at the UN by the spokesman of one Arab state of the speech of another on the Middle East dispute. It was also viewed as reflecting the growing schism between the more moderate elements of the Arab world who favor the step-by-step approach to a settlement practiced by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and the extremists who hold that the only solution is all-out war against Israel.
Earlier today, a high Israeli source said that Khaddam’s morning speech at the General Assembly in which he bitterly attacked the idea of a peaceful settlement with Israel represented the extremist elements in the Damascus government but not the views of President Hafez Assad.
Khaddam charged that the Egyptian-Israeli agreement was a move away from the road to peace. He asked, “How could Syria be convinced that the agreement was a step toward peace when Israel was receiving for it, through blackmail, billions of U.S. dollars?” He said Syria also objected to the agreement because it calls for an American presence in Sinai and because Israel continues to occupy Arab territory. Khaddam said that talk of possible negotiations concerning the Golan Heights was not realistic because that question was a major part of the problem of Palestine and the occupation of Arab territory.
The Egyptian-Syrian rift was further dramatized when Meguid failed to leave his seat to congratulate the Syrian Foreign Minister on his remarks, which is customary. (By Yitzhak Rabi)