TEL AVIV (Apr. 25)
Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan who left for talks in Washington today, declared prior to his departure that Israel will continue to oppose the Carter Administration’s proposed aircraft package deal linking the sale of advanced warplanes to Israel with similar sales to Egypt and Saudi Arabia. “Should the American Administration decide to punish us and not supply us with the planes, we shall have to absorb the punishment and continue to oppose the package deal,” Dayan told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport. He added, “I feel it is our right to express our opinion that the sale of these warplanes to Saudi Arabia and Egypt will endanger Israel and think the United States has adopted a wrong attitude.” Dayan’s emphasis on that point indicated that he intends to make the aircraft sales a major issue in his talks with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance beginning in Washington tomorrow.
In Israel’s view, the U.S. is committed to provide Israel with the F-15 and F-16 jet fighter planes under an agreement reached in 1975 and its decision to link them to sales to Egypt and Saudi Arabia represents a change of American policy. (See separate story from Washington.)
WILL SEEK TO IMPROVE RELATIONS
Dayan indicated, however, that he will seek to improve relations with the U.S. that have become severely strained of late. “I go to Washington to do my utmost to reach a plan for a peace settlement and to find out the points of disagreement so that we can reach an understanding with the U.S., with Egypt and to find a formula for agreement on Judaea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Gaza Strip,” Dayan said.
But the Foreign Minister said it would be a mistake to assume that the main reason for his talks in Washington was the interpretation of Security Council Resolution 242 or a joint declaration of principles acceptable to the U.S. and Egypt on the basis of which peace negotiations can be resumed. “These definitions are only the frame for a peace plan,” he said. “The main subject is not documents but what would actually happen after signing the agreement with Egypt. The question thus is what Egypt proposes as a basis for a settlement, not a basis for a document.”
Dayan said that Ambassador Alfred L. Atherton, President Carter’s special envoy to the Middle East, who will participate in the Dayan-Vance talks, may have more information on that subject. Atherton has returned to Washington after meetings over the weekend with President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kaamel.
Dayan was accompanied on his trip by three legal experts–Attorney General Aharon Barak, Meir Rosenne, legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry, and his personal aide, Eli Rubinstein, who is also a lawyer. Dan Patir, Premier Menachem Begin’s press officer, left with Dayan to oversee preparations for Begin’s visit to the U.S. next week.