TEL AVIV (Mar. 19)
Preparatory work for the first stage of Israel’s evacuation from Sinai will be resumed this Sunday and will continue at an accelerated pace after an Israeli Egyptian peace treaty is signed, possibly next week, it was learned today.
The work was suspended last December when the peace negotiations appeared hopelessly dead locked But by then the army had removed some 25,000 tons of equipment including prefabricated buildings, ammunition and military stores, and gained invaluable experience in evacuation techniques.
As a result military sources said, the army will not have to employ civilian contractors to dismantle the present bases and reconstruct them later on the new demarcation lines and eventually in the Negev. This is expected to entail considerable savings. The army also has tested new methods, especially the use of heavy equipment and specially designed trucks to haul ammunition. The first stage of the evacuation will place Israeli forces on a new line extending from El Arish on the Mediterranean to Ras Mohammed on the Red Sea.
A bi-ministerial committee composed of Deputy Defense Minister Mordechai Zipori and Deputy Finance Minister Yehezkel Floumin is keeping close watch over the evacuation and redeployment of Israeli forces. It will also supervise the creation of a new military infrastructure in the Negev to replace the Sinai bases.
Israel will, itself, build two of the three new air bases in the Negev The U.S, has estimated their cost at $1 billion. An American team is expected here at the end of the week to work out final plans and financial assistance form the U.S. It will continue the work begun by a 15-member U.S. Air Force and Army Engineers Corps delegation that spent two weeks in Israel last November.