JERUSALEM (Nov. 21)
The Cabinet voted 15-2 today to sign a peace treaty with Egypt on the basis of the draft agreed to by the Israeli and Egyptian negotiators in Washington. But it flatly rejected Egypt’s latest demands for linkage between the treaty and the future status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip or any timetable for implementing self-rule in those territories. In a French television interview broadcast in Paris last night, President Anwar Sadat of Egypt said he would not sign a peace treaty with Israel unless it is linked to a specific date for the start of autonomy on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. (See related story)
The vote was taken after a five-hour debate. The dissenters were Haim Landau of Likud, Minister-Without-Portfolio, and Education Minister Zevulun Hammer of the National Religious Party. The treaty draft endorsed by the Cabinet includes compromise language in the preamble, suggested by the U.S., which treats linkage in general terms. The Cabinet resolution declared that the Egyptian proposals made subsequently exceed the scope of the Camp David frameworks and therefore Israel will not accept them.
The resolution stipulated that once the treaty with Egypt is signed and ratified, Israel would be prepared to open negotiations on the implementation of the autonomy scheme on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, based on the Camp David guidelines.
The outcome of today’s Cabinet session was more or less as predicted after Premier Menachem Begin told a Herut central committee meeting Sunday night that he would recommend approval of the draft treaty text brought home by Israel’s chief negotiators, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman. Both Dayan and Weizman publicly urged acceptance of the draft as the best agreement attainable.
Speaking to reporters outside the Cabinet office, Begin made the following announcement:
“I. The government of Israel is prepared to sign a peace treaty with Egypt that was presented to it for consideration by the delegation of Israel to peace negotiations if Egypt is ready to act likewise.
“2. The latest proposals submitted by the government of Egypt are inconsistent with the Camp David agreements and are unacceptable to Israel.
“3. After the signing and ratification of a treaty of peace between Egypt and Israel, Israel is prepared to start negotiations in order to reach agreement for implementation of the administrative autonomy for Judaea, Samaria and the Gaza district in accordance with the provisions of the framework for peace in the Middle East which was agreed at Camp David.” (Washington reaction P.3)