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Israelis Are Cautiously Optimistic

Israeli leaders expressed guarded optimism today that the new proposals by President Carter and his surprise visit to the Middle East, announced by the White House at noon, will improve prospects for peace. But none would predict that a peace treaty with Egypt would be the immediate outcome.

Asked to comment on the President’s visit, Acting Premier Yigael Yadin told a press conference that the chances of signing a treaty were better today than they were yesterday. With respect to Carter’s suggestions, he said “I hope these recommendations will contribute positively to the process of the negotiations. I do not know if there will be a summit in Washington or not or how the peace process will proceed.”

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan said the new proposals “presented a fresh opportunity to conclude a peace agreement.” Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, a leading hawk, called them “a promising new development.” Interior Minister Joseph Burg of the National Religious Party, appeared less certain. He said that while Carter’s trip might further a peace agreement, the President may be coming here to demonstrate friendship for Israel but at the some time exert pressure.

Israeli authorities, meanwhile, began preparations for Carter’s visit, his first to Israel since his election as President. The activity is hectic but apparently benefits from the experience gained from President Anwar Sadat’s visit in November, 1977, Carter’s reception is expected to be as momentous as that given Sadat. He will be the second American President to visit Israel while in office. President Nixon visited Egypt and Israel in 1974.

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