JERUSALEM (Nov. 7)
Despite the heave cloak of secrecy that surrounded its deliberations and the absence of any official confirmation, the general conclusion here today is that the Cabinet rejected the political aspects of the draft peace treaty being negotiated between Israel and Egypt in Washington and also found fault with many of the military elements.
As a result, Defense Minister Ezer Weizman who left for the U.S. today, is expected to stop over in Canada on route to Washington to brief Premier Menachem Begin who is currently touring Canada. At the same time, it was disclosed today that Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor will also fly to Canada shortly to report to Begin at the behest of the Cabinet, an unusual move inasmuch as Weizman will also be seeing the Premier.
Reports circulating here today said the political clauses of the peace treaty met with fierce disapproval by the Cabinet and it was decided to reject them at least until Begin returns to Israel next week. It is expected that Weizman and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, the chief Israeli negotiators, will be called home at that time for further discussion.
These developments indicated that, from the government’s point of view, the reports brought from Washington by Weizman revealed an insignificant degree of progress in the negotiations. The Cabinet’s reaction to the treaty drafts made it virtually certain that they will not be completed before Nov. 19, the first anniversary of President Anwar Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem.
WEIZMAN SEES TREATY SIGNING NEAR
Weizman appeared distinctly unhappy with the reaction of his Cabinet colleagues when he boarded his plane for the U.S. at Ben Gurion Airport today. He denied that he was disappointed with the two days of Cabinet sessions. But he acknowledged that many problems were raised and that the Cabinet offered solutions to some and set guidelines for the solution of others. “I am convinced that we are nearing the signing of a peace agreement,” Weizman told reporters.
He added, however, “I am convinced that it will be a mistake if we do not reach an agreement.” He also said that the time has come for the leaders to tell the nation the pros and cons of the peace agreement and the nature of what lies ahead. He said he believed the pros are much more important than the cons. “I am convinced that the new way of life (with a peace treaty) will be a positive one. We may need some time to fasten our belts, but we shall have a new era,” he said.
It was learned that yesterday’s Cabinet meeting witnessed sharp exchanges between Weizman and other ministers. Some expressed disapproval over the military clauses, particularly the pace of Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai. They insisted that the final stages of withdrawal must coincide with the completion of the new air bases in the Negev that will replace the bases abandoned in Sinai.
Meanwhile, Acting Premier Yigael Yadin said on Israel Radio tonight that “There still remain some basic, very important differences in concluding the peace negotiations between Israel and Egypt and these are not only differences on small issue.” He emphasized that there was no need to rush into the conclusion of a treaty. “This is a basic treaty which will determine our security and way of life for many years to come and we must take each issue and attempt to ground it in accordance with our considerations of what is best for us.”