NEW YORK (Mar. 7)
Israel’s Defense Minister, Ezer Weizman, said last night that following the recent exchange of letters between Premier Menachem Begin and President Anwar Sad-at of Egypt and after Begin concludes his visit to Washington next week “another attempt, and I hope a fruitful one, not only to resume negotiations, but to conclude them positively, will be undertaken.”
Addressing more than 250 Israeli officials and emissaries to the United States, at Congregation Bnai Zion here, Weizman indicated at one point that a separate peace agreement between Israel and Egypt might be possible. He added, however, that “the problem is Jordan.” He did not elaborate. He described himself as an optimist and said that the next few weeks will determine the course of events in the Mideast.
Weizman arrived here Sunday night for a 10-day visit and talks with top Administration officials. He is in Washington today where he is scheduled to hold talks beginning tomorrow with Secretary of Defense Harold Brown on Israel’s military needs. He said he will also confer with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and “maybe” with President Carter.
ISRAEL FACING NEW SITUATION
Weizman said that Israel is now facing a situation entirely different than it has known in the last 30 years. “The question is: do we do our most to seize the opportunity?” he asked, adding: “I believe we ought to take very important and basic decisions, to make an effort while being alert to the dangers.”
Answering a question on the sensitive issue of Israeli settlements in Sinai, Weizman said, briefly: “The issue of settlements is a little confusing…After Begin’s visit (to Washington) we will have to make a few decisions that will clarify the situation.”
Weizman thanked the United States for all the assistance it has been giving Israel, especially since the Yom Kippur War. “In the last four years we have received a tremendous amount of assistance and military aid from the U.S. ” he said. He estimated American aid to Israel in the last four years to be about $5 billion.
However, he expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed sale of fighter planes to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. He said that Israel was promised American military aid as part of the second disengagement agreement with Egypt and it is incomprehensible why the Administration now proposed a “package deal” to sell fighter planes to Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.