JERUSALEM (Dec. 18)
Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan said today that Israel will not take the initiative to resume peace talks with Egypt. At a briefing for senior staff members of the Foreign Ministry he said he wanted the talks to be resumed but only on the basis of Egypt’s knowledge and understanding that Israel will not accept its latest proposals. “If, as Secretary of State Cyrus Vance seemed to hint on television Sunday that the condition for resuming the talks is Israel’s acceptance of Egypt’s demands, then in my opinion there will be no talks,” Dayan said.
(Vance, appearing on the NBC-TV program “Meet the Press” yesterday, said he was “saddened and disappointed” that Israel had rejected proposals which he considered “constructive and reasonable.” Vance said, “It remains to be seen where we go from here.” He added, “I do not think this means an end to the negotiations. We will be willing to continue to work with the parties to try to bring this to a successful conclusion.”)
(In Washington, the State Department said today the U.S. is preparing a “White Paper” on the differences between the U.S. and Israel on the peace talks. See story P.3.)
Dayan stressed that Israel’s task now is to persuade the world that the reason there is no treaty with Egypt is because Egypt has refused to sign the draft and annexes to which it had agreed earlier. He claimed that Egypt’s “new string of amendments” was ruining the treaty while Israel, for its part, proved with its far-reaching concessions how sincere it was in its desire to conclude a peace agreement.
Officials at the Minister’s briefing deduced from his remarks that while Israel is not planning any diplomatic moves at present, it hopes that in time, the U.S. will come up with an acceptable formula for the resumption of negotiations, despite the bitter recriminations with Washington over who is to blame for the present deadlock.
BEGIN RECALLS ISRAEL’S MILITARY DELEGATION
It was announced meanwhile that Premier Menachem Begin has recalled Israel’s military delegation from the Blair House talks in Washington. The delegation has completed its work, a government spokesman said. The group, headed by Brig. Gen. Avraham Tamir, was to leave for Israel later today.
Begin, addressing the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee today, said there was no change in Israel’s apposition to alterations in Articles IV and VI of the draft peace treaty with Egypt. He claimed that Vance had originally agreed that there should be no changes but later came out in support of the Egyptian demands.
Most members of the committee, representing both the Likud coalition and the opposition, supported Begin’s view that Israel should stand fast on its position. Shimon Peres, chairman of the Labor Party and former Premier Yitzhak Rabin stressed that Israel must not bow to outside pressures, meaning apparently the U.S. Three Likud MKs–Yigal Hurwitz, Moshe Shamir and Yosef Ron– expressed the sharpest criticism of the way the government conducted the peace negotiations.
EGYPT’S BASIC PROBLEM
Tracing the ups and downs of the negotiations, Dayan spoke of Egypt’s fundamental problem: the fear of being accused by other Arab states of concluding a separate peace with Israel. In launching his peace initiative, Dayan said, President Anwar Sadat believed he could obtain such far-reaching concessions from Israel on the other fronts too that the other Arab states would follow his example. But this had not happened, and moreover Saudi Arabia and Jordan balked at the Egyptian move because of the split it was causing within the Arab world.
As a result, Egypt sought to revise Article VI (“priority of obligations”) of the draft treaty to prove that she would not give priority to the treaty with Israel over her inter-Arab commitments, Dayan said. But this demand, he continued, emptied the treaty of all substance. “If Egypt has the right to join Syria in a war against us , what do we need the treaty for?” Dayan asked rhetorically. In the final analysis what happened in 1967 was not that Egypt launched a war against Israel but that Egypt closed the Tiran Straits in order to assist Syria, which claimed that it was about to be attacked by Israel, he said.
Dayan indicated that Israel had come to the end of its rope for concessions on this issue. An aide to the Minister recalled later that Article VI as it appears in the draft treaty was itself the product of five reformulations. The U.S.-Egyptian interpretation based on a legal opinion by the State Department legal aide, which supports Egypt’s right to go to the aid of another Arab country attacked by Israel, was put forward without consultation with Israel, the aide said, as a “fait accompli.”
On Egypt’s demand that the exchange of ambassadors be linked to the application of the autonomy, Dayan said this was a blatant form of linkage. If Egypt had merely sought a postponement of the exchange, that would be a different matter, he said. But the exchange of ambassadors was the most symbolic and practical expression of the normalization , Dayan continued. Egypt was therefore clearly saying that she would not be prepared for normalization unless it were linked to the abolition of the military government on the West Bank and Gaza Strip.