Israel Working to Resolve Snags in Preparation for Treaty Signing Including Steps to ‘improve the at
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Israel Working to Resolve Snags in Preparation for Treaty Signing Including Steps to ‘improve the at

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While the Knesset continued to be locked in debate today for the second day over the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the government was hard at work to complete still unresolved issues and iron out snags in preparation for the treaty signing ceremonies due to take place in Washington next Monday afternoon. These seem to involve, principally, matters between Israel and the U.S. Premier Menachem Begin took time out from the Knesset twice yesterday to meet with U.S. Ambassador Samuel Lewis.

The content of their talks was not disclosed. But according to one report, certain unilateral steps to be taken by Israel to “improve the atmosphere” between the two countries have yet to be clarified. Israel reportedly agreed to take these steps but Begin insists, that the entire subject be put in writing between himself and President Carter.

The steps are said to include, among other things the release of some 20 political prisoners by Israel and approval of political activities in the occupied territories. If discussions on these issues are not completed by the end of the week, they will probably continue between Begin and Carter when the Premier arrives in Washington over the weekend for the signing ceremonies.


Meanwhile, Begin met with Defense Minister Ezer Weizmant this morning to hear the latter’s report on his negotiations in Washington on U.S. financial assistance for Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai and redeployment of forces in the Negev. Details of the meeting were not divulged but it was believed to have dealt with the size and form of the American offer which has aroused anger and disappointment in the Finance Ministry and other ministerial circles.

Earlier Weizman told the Knesset that he was satisfied with the arrangement reached in Washington and challenged anyone who “feels he could have done better let him go and try.” Weizman also met with Finance Minister Simcha Ehrlich. Later, Ehrlich expressed the hope that the American offer is not final and that adjustments would be made when Begin is in Washington.

Treasury officials were upset that the American offer of $3 billion is chiefly in the form of long-term loans with only the relatively minor sum of $800 million as a grant Israel is also pressing for an interest rate of two percent. The Americans have not agreed so far.


In a development related to peace between Israel and Egypt Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai wo{SPAN}###tanning to visit Egypt next week to solve a number of technical problems that could arise with respect to Israel’s evacuation of the Sinai oil fields. It was reported today that his trip is subject to clearance by the Israeli treaty delegation in Washington Modai acknowledged that a number of problems still remain on the issue of Sinai oil bur he expressed confidence that they will be solved during Begin’s stay in Washington.{/SPAN}If Modai goes to Egypt, he will discuss the technical aspects of evacuation including matters affecting the oil prospecting companies now in Sinai, their equipment and their relations with governmental and other bodies.

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