JERUSALEM (Nov. 19)
The Cabinet met for five hours today to discuss the latest developments in the peace treaty talks with Egypt but no decisions were made. An announcement after the session said the deliberations would be continued on Tuesday. Although the Cabinet will meet again tomorrow, it will confine itself to domestic matters, mainly the difficulties on the wage-price front.
No details were given of today’s meeting. The announcement said only that the meeting began with briefings by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, heads of the Israeli negotiating team, who returned from Washington to attend the Cabinet session, and heard comments from several ministers.
The main issue before the Cabinet is Egypt’s latest proposals for “linkage ” between a peace treaty and the Camp David framework covering autonomy for the West Bank and Gaza Strip and for a timetable for implementation. The consensus among observers here is that the position of Premier Menachem Begin will, in the end, determine the outcome of the Cabinet’s debate.
Begin, addressing the Herut Party center in Tel Aviv tonight, reportedly said he would recommend approval of agreements based on the Camp David accords, including references to the West Bank which is essentially the American compromise proposal. At the same time, the Premier reportedly said Israel would reject new Egyptian demands which include a timetable for implementing the Camp David autonomy scheme and an Egyptian presence on the Gaza Strip.
PRESSING FOR POSITIVE DECISION
Both Dayan and Weizman appeared over the weekend to be pressing for a positive decision by the Cabinet. While conceding that the Egyptian proposals are far from perfect from Israel’s standpoint, they believe the areas of agreement achieved during the past five weeks of negotiations in Washington are sufficiently broad to satisfy the needs of both sides and that a peace treaty can and should be signed soon.
Cairo has been relatively silent for the past few days, apparently to avoid any negative effects on the Israel Cabinet discussions. But Egyptian Vice President Hosni Mubarak, who carried his government’s proposals to Washington last week, spoke to Israeli correspondents there over the weekend. He told the Israeli Radio reporter that the Egyptian proposals are in line with the Camp David accords. “Are you looking for a genuine peace or not?” Mubarak asked the reporter yesterday. “If you are looking for a genuine peace, then everything could be finished within the timetable.”
In an interview published in Yediot Achronot today, Mubarak said he did not foresee a stalemate in the peace talks but indicated that if the Cabinet rejected the Egyptian proposals Israel would be held responsible for suspending the negotiations. “We are approaching peace but without the solution of the Palestinian problem there will be no peace, neither for the Egyptian people nor for the Israelis,” he was quoted as saying.
URGES SIGNING AN ACCORD
Dayan, interviewed on television here over the weekend, called on Israelis to take a long view. “Beyond this or that article, one must look toward a wider horizon,” he said. “What is going to happen in a year or two regarding Israel’s situation, her neighbors’ situation regarding peace and the position of the U.S.? Personally, these things bother me more than anything else, especially when one sees what is happening in Iran, in Ethiopia, in the supply of American airplanes and other American arms to Saudi Arabia,” Dayan said.
“And I am asking myself ; If we say that we do not want an agreement with Egypt, can we go back to peace and quiet and continue with the military government? Can we live like that for another generation or two? Or perhaps we shall be sorry for missing this hour when Sadat was ready for peace and (President) Carter was ready to impose normalization,” Dayan said.
“My answer,” he continued, “is that, especially regarding autonomy, we face a very difficult struggle. It does not depend solely on the formulas agreed on in the treaty. It will follow us on every step we take. If we have the right leadership and a persistent line and a people that is willing to realize It, we will get out of this struggle over settlements, over Jerusalem so that we will not be ousted from Judaea and Samaria and there will not be a Palestinian state.”
Dayan said the agreement with Egypt is almost ready to be signed. It includes an accord, two supplements and a shorter supplement covering the subjects on which the two sides have not yet agreed. But, Dayan said, “Today there is an agreement to define the treaty as a full peace treaty.” He said that contrary to Egypt’s demands, Israel should not commit itself to solving all the disputed matters on autonomy within nine months. The Americans agree with Israel on that point, Dayan stated.
EGYPT WANTS TO SOLVE DISPUTES
Weizman spoke in a similar vein when he returned from Washington Friday. He reported that he had two meetings there with Mubarak before he left and one meeting with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. He told reporters that while there are problems he is convinced that there is a will on the Egyptians’ part to continue the talks and find ways to solve the disputes. He said that was the impression he gained after his talks with Mubarak last Thursday night.
“As we have signed the Camp David agreement, which considers autonomy as a possible solution, I think that a way can be found by which we sign a (peace) agreement with Egypt that will allay the fears of some of our colleagues,” Weizman said. “This is the crux of the problem.”
Asked if the Egyptians were not escalating their demands, Weizman said they are raising questions on problems still outstanding but he did not regard such an approach as illegitimate. “We also change our attitude on some questions,” he said. He stressed that this was a normal part of the negotiating process. “It would be a great pity if, one year after Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem, we shall not have peace at hand.”