Preparing Groundwork for Peace

A delegation of Israeli officials headed by Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, left for the U.S. today to prepare the groundwork for signing an Israeli – Egyptian peace treaty and a bilateral agreement between Israel and the U.S. for related military and economic assistance. – Weizman, smiling broadly, told reporters, “This time it’s finished,” referring to the peace treaty which he said could be signed “within the next ten days.”

He said he would be meeting in Washington with too U.S. officials and with his Egyptian counterpart, Defense Minister Kamal Hassan Ali and senior Egyptian military officers to work out the details of Israel’s phased withdrawal from Sinai. Weizman said he would also deal with Israel’s request for military aid in the amount of $2 billion annually for five years plus a $4 billion grant to pay the costs of pulling out of Sinai and building new airfields and their infrastructure in the Negev. He said he would seek to advance the delivery date of the 75 F-16 jet tighter-bombers approved for sale to Israel last year and other military items.

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan who originally intended to leave for Washington with Weizman today decided to remain in Israel for the Cabinet session on Sunday to debate the treaty package as a whole. Yesterday’s Cabinet decision approving two key treaty proposals recommended by Premier Menachem Begin and agreed to by President Anwar Sadat, set in motion the events that are expected to culminate in a treaty signing by the end of next week. Today, the Egyptian Cabinet voted unanimously to approve the treaty after a four-hour session.

Weizman said that in addition to practical matters there is a philosophical side to peace. “It is important to know toward what we are heading,” he said. “It is possible that within ten days we shall sign a peace agreement. We shall have to work then in ways we are not used to, under conditions of peace with the Arabs. There will be new things, for us and for the Arabs. It is important what atmosphere is created and I hope that on this visit I shall be able to do something to smooth the transition into the peace era, ” Weizman said.

Accompanying Weizman are Meir Rosenne, legal advisor to the Foreign Ministry, Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ephraim Evron, who is returning to Washington for political discussions on behalf of Dayan, Amram Sivan, Director General of the Finance Ministry, who will discuss economic matters with the Americans, Weizman’s Defense Ministry aides Joseph Mayani, Gen Abraham Tamir, Gen. Nathan Sharoni, and Lt Col. Tlan Tehila, Weizman’s secretary.

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