WASHINGTON (Sep. 20)
The focus of world attention on the Camp David accord shifted today to the Middle East itself with the United States exerting its influence to induce Arab allies to associate themselves with the frameworks for peace, while opposing Arab elements mounted a campaign to destroy them. Developments included:
Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance was in Amman on the first leg of his four-day Middle East journey that takes him to Riyadh tomorrow and Damascus Saturday with apprehension and opposition emerging in all three countries he is to visit to explain the framework far peace.
The U.S. and Israel were working out language in letters between them and Egypt that supplement the accords. About 10 letters are involved and they deal with Jerusalem, Jewish settlements in occupied territories and the U.S. construction of two military airfields in Israel.
Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was reported by Egyptian radio and press service as having told Egyptians in Washington that the Israeli-Egyptian treaty will be signed in two months or possibly less, regardless of opposition by other Arabs.
Four Arab governments hostile to the accords–Syria, Libya, South Yemen and Algeria–and the Palestine Liberation Organization were meeting in Damascus with the Syrian government as host as indications heightened that a front is being organized to oppose Egypt and Israel.
Even before Vance set off last night on his difficult mission, Jordan and Saudi Arabia indicated dissatisfaction with the accords and repeated their old demands–complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands, including Jerusalem, and establishment ofa Palestinian state. The accords, based on United Nations Resolutions 242 and 338, sets up negotiating machinery on the extent of the withdrawals and provides full autonomy for the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza.
According to information received here, associates of King Hussein in Jordan spoke of “apparent continuation of some basic predatory tenets of political Zionism” in the accords while conceding that they “certainly” have “some positive elements.”
In Saudi Arabia, the government reportedly made known that the accords were “unacceptable,” with one reason being that they excluded the PLO from the peace process.
VANCE REITERATES CARTER’S OUTLOOK
Before departing for Jordan, Vance repeated President Carter’s outlook, saying “it is imperative that key Arab states that were not present at Camp David understand the contents, purpose and philosophy” of the accords. He urged the Arab world to give “thoughtful and careful study” to them before deciding to join or reject the process for peace.
The Middle East News Agency, based in Cairo, reported that Sadat said, in a meeting with American editors late yesterday, that he would press forward with peace efforts even if Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the West Bank Palestinians do not go along. Expressing his high esteem for President Carter sending Vance to Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Sadat said “but this does not mean that without their approval I am going to turn back or hesitate. I will go ahead.”
Sadat added, according to the news report, that “if king Hussein hesitates to shoulder his responsibility, I will handle everything,” and “what is applied to the Gaza Strip will be applied to the West Bank.” Concerning reports the PLO was inciting Palestinians to make trouble on the West Bank and Gaza, Sadat remarked “this action will be a challenge and we will have to deal with it if we are to carry out our responsibility for the realization of peace. I am ready to face this challenge.” Sadat left Washington today and flew to Rabat where he is to confer with King Hassan.
Meanwhile, the State Department disclosed that about 10 letters dealing with aspects of the Middle East situation are still not ready for publication and that American and Israeli officials were engaged in drafting them. It did not mention Egyptian participation, leading to surmise of Israeli-American differences.
Heavily emphasized reports of a “snag” caused by Israeli-American differences over language on the settlements issue were completely discounted at the White House where a spokesman told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the matter “is only a small flaw in a large carpet.” He pointed out that “we had expected the possibility of misunderstandings. All these little problems will be overcome.”