WASHINGTON (Oct. 22)
The State Department announced today that the text of a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt has been agreed to by the delegations at the Blair House conference and has been referred to the governments of the two countries for approval.
George Sherman, who serves as official spokesman for the conferees, told reporters this afternoon that “significant progress has been made. The principle issues in the negotiations have been reached so far as the Israeli and Egyptian delegations are concerned,” he said.
“Work on the annexes to the treaty continues in Washington ” and “several issues covered in these annexes have also been referred to the governments for final approval, while others are still subject to preliminary agreement here between the delegations, ” he said.
Sherman credited solution of the differences to “President Carter’s involvement” in the negotiations and yesterday’s 4-1/2 hour meeting between the Israeli, Egyptian and American delegations at the Madison Hotel just prior to the return of Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, heads of the Israeli delegation, to Israel.
He said Carter had held meetings with the leaders of both delegations at the White House and Blair House and that the U.S. presented a revised negotiating draft Thursday night to replace the one it had presented when the Blair House talks opened on October 12.
INPUT BY THE THREE DELEGATIONS
Asked by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency if the peace treaty text agreed to was basically the second American draft, Sherman replied that “The treaty agreed to has input from all three delegations. It should not be considered an American draft but the American draft was the basis of the negotiations.” When pressed further on that point, he said that “none of the three parties has exclusive pride of authorship. All three are equally pleased to have agreement on the text.”
Asked if the principal issues between Egypt and Israel have been resolved, Sherman said “Yes, insofar as the delegations in the negations are concerned.” But he repeated that elements in the annexes await resolution. He said the treaty consists of a preamble, 9-10 main articles and the three annexes. Except for some parts of the latter, the issues have been agreed but “overall, the annexes have to be agreed,” he said.
Asked about reports that Egypt had insisted on the preamble to link the peace treaty with an Israeli commitment on a resolution of the West Bank and Gaza Strip problems, Sherman said “The linkage issue was resolved satisfactorily insofar as the delegations are concerned, ” implying that final resolution was up to the two governments.
On the matter of a full peace treaty, he said that “a way to handle normalization of relations” between Israel and Egypt also has been resolved. The Camp David accords had called for a full peace treaty immediately. Egypt insisted, at the Blair House talks, that diplomatic relations with Israel be established gradually, beginning at a lower than ambassadorial level, and that the peace treaty incorporate a clause subjecting it to review after five years.
Inasmuch as the Camp David framework for the West Bank and Gaza calls for a five-year transition period of local autonomy, Israel saw the demand for a review after five years as a subtle but direct linkage of the peace treaty with progress in settling the West Bank issues.
Asked to comment on Carter’s statement last night that many differences remain to be resolved, Sherman said he thought the President was referring to the three annexes. Sherman would not reveal the substantive contents of the preamble, the annexes or the peace treaty itself.
Asked what reason there was for Dayan and Weizman to return to Washington now that the treaty has been agreed to, Sherman noted that Dayan took the text to Israel where it is “subject to approval by the Cabinet.” He said that “issues remain to be settled and presumably they (Dayan and Weizman) will come back” by the middle of this week.
The Egyptian delegation remained in Washington, except for one member, Osama AI Baz, who flew to London yesterday to brief Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak. President Anwar Sadat said in Cairo over the weekend that he was fully informed of the developments in Washington.
NO DATE SET FOR SIGNING TREATY
Sherman said that no date has been set for signing the Israeli-Egyptian treaty and no place selected for that ceremony. Without going into details, he indicated that military, economic and political aspects of the peace treaty are contained in the three annexes that remain to be agreed on.
He indicated that one matter was the Sinai oil and its future availability to Israel. This is expected to be worked out by experts of both countries. An Egyptian oil delegation, headed by Ramzi EI-Laithy, director general of the Egyptian petroleum organization, has arrived in Washington. An Israeli delegation, headed by Joseph Vardi, director general of the energy and oil authority, and Elisha Roy, an oil company executive, is expected today.
DAYAN SOUNDS OPTIMISTIC NOTE
Dayan gave rise to some concern here late last week when he was overheard remarking to Carter that the sticky issues between Israel and Egypt could not be resolved by the delegations at Blair House and might require another summit conference. But on his arrival in Jerusalem today he sounded more optimistic. He said he brought back a draft peace treaty whose details were agreed to by both sides although it was not yet ready for signature.
“There are important subjects on which agreement has not yet been reached,” he said. Before leaving Washington, Dayan told reporters that the treaty was worked out by the Israelis and Egyptians. Asked if it was linked to progress on the West Bank and Gaza Strip problems, he replied that the treaty “stands on its own feet” and was not conditional on any other agreements reached at Camp David, presumably meaning the framework for the West Bank and Gaza, which includes the Palestinian issue.
“There has been considerable progress in the last 24 hours and thanks to the help of President Carter we are much closer to reaching jointly agreed proposals based on compromise,” Dayan said in Washington yesterday. “Now it must be ratified by both governments. I can say only that between the situation a few days ago and the situation today, there was considerable progress,” he added.