OSLO (Dec. 11)
Premier Menachem Begin said here today that he believed the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to him and President Anwar Sadat of Egypt would have a positive impact on current efforts to conclude an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The award “will have a psychological effect,” the Israeli leader told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency just before his departure for home.
Begin left Oslo after a one-hour meeting with the Norwegian Prime Minister Odvar Nordli and Foreign Minister Knut Frydenlund. He is due in Israel late tonight and is expected to go directly to the Knesset building to pay respects to the late Gold Meir whose body lies in state there. Former Premier Trygve Bratelli and his wife left for Israel with Begin aboard his Israel Air Force plane. They will officially represent Norway at Mrs. Meir’s funeral tomorrow.
Immediately after the funeral, Begin will meet with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who is currently on a mission to try and break the current deadlock in the Israeli-Egyptian talks. Vance and his wife are members of the American delegation to the funeral.
STILL HOPES TO MEET DEC. 17 DEADLINE
The Israeli Premier told a press conference here today that he still hopes to meet the Dec. 17 deadline set by the Camp David conference for a peace treaty with Egypt. “I know time is running out and only six days are left but there is always some hope left. Israel was ready two weeks ago to sign the treaty and is ready to do so now. It is up to Egypt,” Begin said.
He refused to say whether Israel will continue to freeze the establishment of new settlements on the West Bank during the forthcoming negotiations should the Dec. 17 deadline not be met. “It is up to the Israeli government to decide,” the Premier said, refusing to reveal how he felt personally on this issue.
He also refused to say which of the three points raised by Egypt, Articles IV and VI of the treaty, and the linkage issue, he finds “of lesser importance” thus indicating a possible compromise solution. “All three items are of equal importance,” the Premier said. Article IV deals with security arrangements and Article VI deals with the priority of the treaty over previous treaties between Egypt and Arab countries.
Begin met this morning with Nordli and frydenlund who called on him at the Royal Palace The meeting was described by Israeli and Norwegian spokesman as very friendly. Begin reported to the two Norwegian ministers on the current peace talks saying that he felt that a peace treaty will ultimately be signed in spite of current difficulties. Nordli asked Israel to use its influence to improve the conditions under which the Norwegian force serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) operates.
Begin told the Norwegians that Israel might have oil problems at some future date and may have to import Norwegian oil. Norway is due to become one of Europe’s largest oil exporting countries thanks to the North Sea oil it is producing.
EGYPT SEEKING EARLY PEACE ACCORD
In other Middle East developments over the weekend, David Landau reported from Jerusalem that Vance met with Sadat yesterday at the latter’s retreat outside Cairo and was due to meet with him again today before flying to Israel. Egypt’s Under-secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Osama el-Baz, was quoted as saying yesterday that Egypt wanted a peace agreement concluded as soon as possible, hopefully by the Dec. 17 deadline.
“But if we overstray the deadline by a few days it won’t be terrible,” he told the Maariv correspondent in Paris. El-Baz, who participated in the Israeli-Egyptian negotiations in Washington, also reportedly said that the next move in the peace process is up to Vance, whose latest mission to the Middle East was ordered by President Carter. “The ball is now in Vance’s hands,” the Egyptian official told Maariv. According to the correspondent, he gave the impression that there had been a narrowing of the gap between Israel and Egypt on the “linkage-timetable” issue. He did not mention Article VI of the draft treaty that Egypt wants amended.
Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan wound up a three-day official visit to Switzerland Friday. He said at a press conference in Beme that Israel would not accept a new peace treaty with Egypt nor would it agree to any amendments to the present draft. Dayan and his wife were hosted by Swiss Foreign Minister Pierre Auber who was, for many years, president of the Swiss-Israel Friendship Association. It was understood that the Swiss were ready to act as mediators in the Middle East conflict and also serve as a point of exchange in contacts between Israel and the Eastern European Communist bloc.