Chances of Reaching an Accord with Egypt on Sinai Depends on Egyptian Promises Made at Ismailia Meet
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Chances of Reaching an Accord with Egypt on Sinai Depends on Egyptian Promises Made at Ismailia Meet

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The chances of reaching an accord with Egypt over Israeli withdrawal from Sinai will depend on whether the Egyptians honor two promises made in principle to Israel at last month’s summit meeting between Premier Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sadat of Ismailia, informed sources said last night.

Those promises are that the Straits of Tiran, giving access to the Israeli part of Eilat, will be declared international waters and that Egyptian forces will not advance beyond the Mitle and Gidi Posses which they presently hold.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan revealed yesterday that the Egyptians would be ready for a separate agreement with Israel if other Arab countries refuse to join the talks between Israel and Egypt expected to begin simultaneously in Jerusalem and Cairo on Jan. 15. Speaking at Haifa Technion, Dayan said the Egyptians contend they are paving the way for other Arabs to join the talks, but should they refuse, Egypt would go it alone.

An agreement on Sinai, largely of a military nature, will be the task of the joint Israeli-Egyptian military committee due to convene in Cairo. It will meet simultaneously with the Israeli-Egyptian political committee in Jerusalem and will be chaired, on a rotating basis, by Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Egyptian Minister of War Mohammed Gamassy.

The Egyptians have advanced no proposals about procedures yet. But they indicated that they want the talks to be held in secret at an Egyptian military base away from the presence of the news media. Israel has advised the Egyptians that it opposes this. Israel has also relayed to the Egyptians, through the offices of U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis, its proposals for a Sinai agreement, contingent upon the two promises made by Egypt.


According to the sources, Israel would have Sinai divided into three zones. The western zone presently held by Egypt, extends to the Mitle and Gidi Passes. The second zone will be a demilitarized region bounded on the east by a line from EI Arish on the Mediterranean coast to Ras Mouhammed, south of Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea.

The third zone would extend from that line to the old international border and would encompass the coastal town of Yamit and the Rafah salient which contains Israeli settlements. The latter zone, though officially under Egyptian sovereignty, would be under United Nations protection. Yamit and the settlements would remain under Israeli protection and the settles would be subject to Israeli law.

The sources said that there was a question of Israeli military airfields in the UN-protected zone. Under the proposed agreement there would be converted to civilian airfields for the use of the local settlers.


Dayan told the Haifa Technion audience that he expected Egyptian-Israeli negotiations on the Sinai to be tough. The Egyptians, he noted, will insist on detailed negotiations about every square yard in Sinai. However, they will not pursue the some hard bargaining about the West Bank because they do not feel themselves qualified to enter into detailed discussions, Dayan said. At the moment, in the absence of the Jordanians in the negotiating process, there is nobody to talk to about the West Bank, he said.

Dayan also stated that he expected the American representatives on the political committee would be active participants in preventing the talks from stalling or running into dead ends. “They will not hesitate to pull up their sleeves and try to bridge differences so the talks can keep on going,” he said. Dayan will head Israel’s delegation at the political committee talks and will be chairman of the first session, to be replaced by Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Ibrahim Kaamel at the second session. Both foreign ministers will alternate as chairman on a rotating basis.


Meanwhile, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt said last evening in an interview with CBS-TV that peace with Israel will require the evacuation of Jewish settlements in Sinai. “Well, this question of settlements on the Egyptian territory is completely rejected from us. This is a final decision,” Sadat said. “We can’t, we can’t have them. After the peace agreement is reached, we can’t have settlements like this on our land.”

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