JERUSALEM (Sep. 26)
The Knesset is expected to approve the Camp David agreements by a large majority tomorrow, despite the fierce protests being mounted by settlers groups and other opponents of the accord. Israeli-Egyptian negotiations for a peace treaty are expected to follow rapidly after the Knesset acts. It is believed Israel will propose that the talks open immediately after Rosh Hashanah.
Preparations are already underway at the top policy-making level. Premier Menachem Begin, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman met here this morning to discuss the practical aspects of the negotiations. The site has yet to be agreed on and the composition of the Israeli negotiating team decided.
President Anwar Sadat has already nominated his deputy, Vice President Hosni Mubarak, to renew the contacts with Israel. Sadat announced yesterday that communication lines between Egypt and Israel would be reopened immediately but as of today direct communications have not been restored.
MILITARY COMMITTEE TO BE SET UP
It is believed that the first step in the renewed talks will be the establishment of a joint Israeli-Egyptian military committee to tackle the military aspects of implementing the Camp David framework. The committee will have the task of drawing the exact lines that will divide Sinai into several zones–a limited forces zone, a demilitarized zone, a United Nations controlled zone–and of establishing the sites for early warning systems and early warning stations to be manned by American civilian personnel.
Other problems involve arrangements for aircraft flights over Sinai and the navigation of shipping in Sinai waters, including the Suez Canal. But the main issue will be the establishment of a timetable and contingent arrangements for Israel’s two-stage military withdrawal from Sinai.
The first stage will pull Israeli forces back from their present lines to the EI Arish-Sharm el-Sheikh line in eastern Sinai. The second pullback will be to the old international border that separated Egypt from Mandated Palestine. Under the Camp David agreements, the final stage, which entails the removal of Israeli settlements and air fields, will take place near the end of the third year after a peace treaty is signed.
POLITICAL PARTIES DEBATE ACCORDS
Meanwhile, Israel’s political parties were engaged in internal debates today over the Camp David agreements. The discussions are expected to continue up to the time the Knesset convenes tomorrow. It is still unclear whether the MKs will be subject to party discipline or allowed a free vote.
Begin said in Washington last week that he would permit members of Likud to vote according to their conscience. But yesterday he indicated that he would impose party discipline. Observers believe that if the Likud Knesset faction is convinced of a solid majority behind the Premier, it will agree to a free vote, thereby enhancing the government’s public image. But if there are any doubts of the outcome, Begin is expected to insist on party and coalition discipline. He told his colleagues yesterday that if the Knesset failed to approve the Camp David agreements, he would resign.
Begin met today with members of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee in an attempt to convince them of the merits of the Camp David accords, but three members of the committee have said they will vote against the accords. The three, National Religious Party member Rabbi Haim Druckman, La’am member Ehud Olmert, and Herut veteran Yosef Romm, noted that they will oppose the accords mostly due to the sttlement issue.
Druckman noted that Begin’s contentions as presented to the committee were totally unconvincing, and added that “we can’t help the government when it is dismantling settlements.” Olmert, however, conceded that some of Begin’s arguments had convinced him but not to the extent that he would support the accords. He termed them a dictate of Sadat and cautioned against false illusions about peace. Romm was less volatile in his criticism of Begin, but added that each person should be allowed to vote according to his conscience.
CONSEQUENCES OF ACCORDS DISCUSSED
The economic and budgetary aspects of the Camp David agreements were discussed today by representatives of the Finance, Defense, Labor and Commerce and Industry Ministries. The cost of withdrawal from Sinai and the construction of new military installations were on the agenda. The future of the tourist industry was also discussed, looking to the future when there will be a free flow of tourists between Israel and Egypt.
The future of Yamit and the other Sinai settlements is not so bright. Housing Minister Gideon Patt received a delegation from Yamit to discuss future development plans. He advised the settlers “not to build palaces” but promised that the ministry would consider requests to help finance additional rooms to houses. He pointed out that their evacuation was still three years off. (See Behind the Headlines, P.4.)