Egypt’s Four Demands Linking Peace Treaty with West Bank, Gaza Strip

Egypt has made four demands linking a peace treaty with the issues of the West Bank and Gaza Strip that Israel finds unacceptable and which Premier Menachem Begin referred to this morning as the main obstacles in the way of a peace treaty. Begin did not divulge the details of the Egyptian demands, but they are generally known to require Israel to submit precise timetables linking autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs with its evacuation of Sinai.

At the same time, circles close to the Defense Ministry disclosed details of the military agreement reached on Sinai which is still to be ratified by both governments. The purpose, apparently was to reassure Israelis that the proposed agreement is not one-sided at Israel’s expense. The circles revealed that the agreement contains one paragraph that specifically permits Israeli naval units transit through the Suez Canal and that others spell out the limits of Egyptian forces permitted in Sinai.

LINKAGE POSES SERIOUS DIFFICULTIES

The most serious difficulties stem from linkage. Egypt has demanded an exact timetable for the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the West Bank (the Camp David accords do not call for total withdrawal but redeployment of forces) and a parallel timetable to establish autonomy for the local Arabs. The Egyptians want these timetables to be implemented concurrently with the initial stage of withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai to be completed within nine months of the signing of a treaty.

Cairo also is said to have demanded an Egyptian presence in the Gaza Strip which is seen by Israel as an attempt to interfere with the establishment of local autonomy. The military agreement reached in Washington would divide Sinai into three zones. There would be a limited forces zone east of the Suez Canal where Egyptian forces would be limited to 230 tanks, 100 artillery pieces and some Strella antiaircraft missiles but no ground-to-air missiles of the SAM type or anti-tank missiles.

Central Sinai would constitute a demilitarized zone where only three battalions of lightly armed border police would be deployed. The third zone, adjacent to the Israeli border, would be under the overall supervision of United Nations forces and Egyptian civilian police to protect public safety and maintain order. A limited forces zone three miles in depth would also be established in the Israeli side of the border. Israel would be allowed only four infantry battalions in that zone.

Israel would demolish all of its military installations in Sinai except for the airfields which are to be handed over to the Egyptians in useable condition. The latter, however, would not be permitted to utilize the airfields for military purposes, except the airfield at Refidim (Bir Gafgafa) where planes of the Egyptian Transport Command would be allowed.

Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zipori said today that the Israeli army will not evacuate Sinai on the assumption that it may have to fight for it again. However, he said, Israel has “proper solutions” in the event that Egypt once again took the option of war.

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