WASHINGTON (Mar. 15)
Congressional leaders, appreciative of the suddenly achieved breakthrough for peace in the Middle East and mindful of heightened animosities from foes of Egypt and Israel that seek to wreck it, began today to face the legislative measures required to bolster the Egyptian-Israeli treaty negotiated by the United States.
President Carter, whose historic shuttle diplomacy for six days to Cairo, Jerusalem and back to Cairo achieved success, divulged some of the factors to House and Senate leaders at the White House last night. Carter’s Special Ambassador to the Middle East, Alfred Atherton, went behind closed doors today before the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was scheduled to appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon. He is expected to detail the U.S. commitments to Egypt and Israel in supplementary support of their treaty, including security accords as well as financial assistance.
Carter estimated to the Congressional leaders he would ask Congress to appropriate between $4-5 billion for disbursement over the next three years to Egypt and Israel in addition to the $1 billion in economic aid legislated for this year to Egypt and $1.8 billion for Israel in economic and military assistance.
TERMS FINANCING A REAL BARGAIN
Senate Minority Leader Howard Baker (R. Tenn.) disclosed the estimated dollar figure after he left the White House meeting but he gave no indication of how it would be divided. “If this is a fair estimate of the cost, it’s a real bargain,” Baker said. House Majority Leader Jim Wright (D. Texas) said Congress would “look kindly” on the additional assistance to Egypt and Israel “to provide the glue” to keep the treaty intact.
Sen. George McGovern (D.S.D.), a Senate Foreign Relations Committee member, said “If a settlement is achieved in the Middle East, it is going to cost this country some money in terms of economic and military assistance to both Israel and Egypt, but those costs are for overshadowed by possible costs of another conflict in the Middle East, including the cutting off of oil supplies that are so crucial to the industrial West.”
In New York, Sen. Jacob Javits (R. NY), who arrived there after attending the White House meeting, told some 500 persons attending a gathering of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith that the peace treaty will result in a burden on the American taxpayer, but emphasized that the necessary cost “will be supported by Congress because of the stakes involved.” He indicated that the deal struck by Carter in getting Israel and Egypt to agree to the treaty involves “heavy commitments by the United States which are not of an onerous character — meaning military — but of a financial and moral character.”
Javits noted that the U.S. role will be as “the guarantor of how the parties will deal with each other” to assure that Israel and Egypt “do not suffer untoward consequences” for other Arab nations opposed to the treaty. The Senator made his remarks at the ADL’s presentation of its National Distinguished Public Service Award to Leo Jaffe, board chairman of Columbia Pictures Industries.
SOME UNCERTAINTIES AND CONCERNS
Meanwhile, one of the uncertainties was over Baker’s cost figure report including the U.S. share for the cost of moving Israel’s two air boss from Sinai to the Negev for which Israel is reportedly asking the U.S. to provide $3.2 billion One estimate was that Egypt would get some $2 billion in military assistance, almost the some as Israel is getting this year.
Concern was manifested here about the attitude Saudi Arabia might adopt towards Egypt. Relations between Sadat and the oil sheikhs who contribute about a billion dollars a year to Egypt and possibly more are in a delicate stage, U.S. sources have indicated. Should Saudi Arabia, which has endorsed the Arab-Communist opposition to the Camp David frameworks extend its coolness toward Egypt by cutting off or reducing aid, then the U.S. would be put in a position of at least making up the losses to Cairo.
According to information received here from Cairo today, Sadat said he was going to Washington next week, “invited or not.” Interviewed after the Egyptian Cabinet had approved the treaty as expected, Sadat said the “first ceremony of the (peace treaty) signing shall be in Washington because we owe a lot to President Carter.”
Asked if he envisioned difficulties to the signing, he replied, “No, let us hope there will be no difficulties. We have achieved peace and it is Jimmy Carter who made it all possible.”
Egyptian officials were reported in Cairo as saying that Sadat would bring a long list of Egypt’s economic and military needs and that he wants the U.S. West Germany and Japan to organize and support a vast economic program to elevate Egypt’s poor economic state and that the cost for the program would be $10 billion over five years.
While in Cairo last week, Americans were informed that in addition to economic aid of such proportions, Sadat also was looking for $10-20 billion in military assistance that would include 315 warplanes, and 600 tanks.
CAMPAIGN AGAINST SADAT
Meanwhile, Arab elements particularly hostile to Sadat began campaigning and demonstrating, some of it in violent form. In Washington, Palestinian Arab partisans scheduled a demonstration at the Egyptian Embassy and also at Dupont Circle less than a mile from the White House. To counteract the campaign, Egypt was said to have started its own drive to assure the Arab world it is not signing a separate peace with Israel but that the treaty with Israel represents a first step toward a comprehensive peace that would establish for the Palestinians their “legitimate rights.”
Analysts who have long been critical of Israel are indicating that the question at this stage is whether the Egyptian-Israeli treaty would provide the cornerstone for a broader settlement or make the comprehensive settlement Carter is seeking more difficult to achieve.
The Soviet Union condemned the Egyptian-Israeli treaty as worsening the Middle East situation. In supporting the drive against the treaty and emphasizing its attack particularly against Sadat, the official Soviet news agency, Tass, declared that Sadat was forced to take backward steps to meet Israeli demands. A Washington datelined Tass dispatch said Sadat had capitulated fully to the agreement. The Communist Party newspaper, Pravda, charged that the U.S. had connived with Israel.
JEWISH LEADERS PRAISE PEACE MOVE
Meanwhile, statements of praise for Carter, Begin and Sadat in their efforts to achieve peace and hopes that a lasting peace will be achieved in the Middle East were expressed by American Jewish leaders.
Among them were Bertram Gold, executive vice president, American Jewish Committee Jack Spitzer, president, B’nai B’rith. Charlotte Jacobson, chairman, World Zionist Organization-American Section, Theodore Mann, chairman, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Maxwell Greenberg, national chairman, Anti-Defamation Leogue of B’nai B’rith.
Also, Bernice Tannenbaum, president, Hadassah, Howard Squadron, president, American Jewish Congress Ivan Novick, president, Zionist Organization of America, Esther Landa, president, National Council of Jewish Women, Rabbi Alexander Schindler, president, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, Prof. Allen Pollack, president, Labor Zionist Alliance, and Rabbi Joseph Sternstein, president, American Zionist Federation.