JERUSALEM (Jan. 29)
The Cabinet decided today to resume the military talks with Egypt in Cairo and instructed Defense Minister Ezer Weizman “to make the necessary arrangements.” Weizman is expected to fly to Egypt tomorrow or Tuesday.
The military talks have been in suspension since Jan. 22 when the Cabinet decided to postpone the return of the Israeli delegation to Cairo pending an end to the attacks on Israel in the Egyptian press. Those attacks, which degenerated into anti-Semitic crudities in some leading Egyptian organs, escalated after President Anwar Sadat’s sudden recall of the Egyptian delegation to the political committee talks in Jerusalem on Jan. 18. But the Egyptian press has toned down considerably during the past week.
Although Anis Mansour, editor of the Cairo weekly “October,” referred to Premier Menachem Begin in the current edition as “an old time terrorist” who extends one hand in peace while the other holds a concealed weapon, Begin apparently decided to ignore the personal insult.
Cabinet Secretary Arye Noor told reporters after today’s Cabinet session that Begin had asked the ministers not to take account of the latest attack. Begin said the Cabinet must distinguish between insults to the Jewish people and invectives against himself which he called “an occupational hazard” of being Premier.
It was learned today that when the talks resume, Weizman will be seconded in Cairo by Gen. Avraham Tamir, chief of planning, and Gen. Mordechai Gazit, chief of intelligence. Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur is not expected to participate in the second round of talks nor will Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zippori. Both had attended the opening sessions earlier this month.
FLEXIBILITY ON RAFAH SETTLEMENTS
The talks will be resuming against the background of an important speech by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan last night in which he seemed to indicate some flexibility on the issue of the Rafah salient settlements. Dayan told an audience at Kfar Vitkin that the settlements should not be allowed to stand in the way of a peace settlement and indicated that if Egypt was prepared to negotiate a separate agreement with Israel, a solution would be found for the settlements in northern Sinai.
But Dayan’s spokesman, Naftali Lavie, denied this morning that the Foreign Minister was ready to dismantle the settlements. He claimed that , on the contrary, Dayan stands by Israel’s peace plan under which the settlements would remain under Israel’s control although nominally under Egyptian sovereignty. He said that represented Israel’s maximum concession.
BEGIN CITES THE CRUCIAL ISSUE
Meanwhile, Begin indicated last night that the crucial issue when the military talks resume will be the demilitarization of Sinai. Addressing some 300 Jewish leaders from the United States and Canada participating in the Israel Bond Organization’s Prime Minister’s Mission, he repeated his charge that the Egyptian military establishment had attempted to water down a pledge by Sadat that would leave all of eastern Sinai a demilitarized zone after peace is established.
He said he and Sadat had reached such an agreement at their private meeting in Jerusalem last Nov. 20. But while Sadat promised that Egyptian forces would not advance beyond the Gidi and Mitle passes, over 200 kilometers from the international border with Israel, Egypt’s War Minister Mohammed Gamassy came to the Cairo talks with a map that would put the Egyptian army only 40 kilometers away from the Israeli lines. Begin expressed hope that Sadat’s original intentions would prevail during the second round of talks.