JERUSALEM (Feb. 6)
Premier Menachem Begin reiterated last night that Israel is still ready to sign the draft peace treaty with Egypt as it now stands and is also ready to resume negotiations on the issues still in dispute. Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, a leading Cabinet hawk who opposed the Camp David accords, said today that the sooner a peace treaty is sighed with Egypt the better it will be for Israel and predicted that the treaty would be signed this year but he could not say just when.
Begin mode his remarks in an address to a visiting group of army officers from the Canadian Staff College. He referred to the treaty draft proposed by the United. States and concluded by the Israeli and Egyptian negotiating teams in Washington last November. He said it was not Israel’s fault that the negotiations had lapsed.
The Premier insisted that Israel was not seeking a separate peace” with Egypt but saw the treaty as a step on the way to a comprehensive settlement in the Middle Last as stipulated in the Camp David frameworks. But Begin said Israel would never accept a Palestinian state be cause it would pose a mortal danger” to Israel.
Sharon, in an Army Radio interview, said Israel’s overall interest called for efforts to sign a treaty sooner rather than later. Operating against this, he said, was the fact that an early signing would “strengthen the Carter Administration, implying that this was not in Israel interest. However, he added, there are other pressing considerations that outweighed it. All possibilities exist” that there will be an early signing, Sharon said. His statement indicated that he favored the resumption of negotiations on the ministerial level as suggested by the U.S. State Department. See related story from Washington.)