JERUSALEM (Mar. 13)
Premier Menachem Begin announced tonight that he will convene ?special Cabinet meeting tomorrow to discuss new American treaty proposals that Israel has accepted and that President Anwar Sadat of Egypt also agreed to at a meeting with President Carter in Cairo this afternoon. Describing these developments as “tremendous progress,” Begin said on Israel Radio that if the Cabinet approved, he would submit the American proposals to the Knesset for approval forthwith. He warned that if the Knesset rejected them, his government would resign.
The nature of the proposals remained a tight secret even as the dramatic news from Cairo was received. Only hours before, Carter left Israel saying that “good progress” was made during his three days of talks with Begin and that while some problems remained unresolved, “we will not fail” to conclude the peace negotiations successfully.
The President stopped briefly in Cairo on his way back to Washington today and met for 2 1/2 hours with Sadat at Cairo Airport Immediately afterwards, he told the press, “I am convinced that now we have defined all the main ingredients of a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel which will be the cornerstone of a comprehensive peace settlement for the Middle East.”
Begin said tonight, “If the agreement is accepted by the Cabinet and by the Knesset, then we can sign the peace treaty toward the end of next week or the beginning of the week after that.” He proposed that he would go to Cairo to sign the Arabic version of the pact while Sadat would come to Jerusalem to place his signature on the Hebrew version and Carter would sign the English text in Washington in the presence of himself and Sadat. (See P.3. for late developments.)
DRAMATIC TURNABOUT IN PEACE MISSION
The last 24 hours saw a dramatic turnabout in Carter’s peace mission to the Middle East which seemed on the brink of failure only yesterday. The President conferred with Begin for three hours before his departure this morning. He said afterwards that he and the Premier had made “substantial additional progress” on the “two or three most difficult issues.” Begin agreed, assuring the President that “You have succeeded. We have made progress… real progress” although “there are some problems left and now, of course, it is Egypt’s turn to give its replies.”
Deputy Premier Yigael Yadin, who escorted Carter to Bon Gurion Airport, remarked that if the Egyptians showed the same flexibility as the Israelis, a peace treaty could be signed within a week or two.
While Carter and his aides were engaged in discussions with the Israelis, U.S. Defense Secretary Harold Brown met with Israeli Defense Minister Ezer. Weizman, it was disclosed today. Their talks reportedly were focussed on American military aid to Israel. Brown departed with Carter today but left one of his deputies behind to continue talks with the Israelis. Israel is seeking American military assistance in the amount of some $2 billion annually plus a special grant of $4 billion to cover the costs of evacuating the Sinai.