TEL AVIV (Jul. 29)
Egypt’s Minister of Defense, Kamal Hassan Ali, arrived here today to a warm welcome from Defense Minister Ezer Weizman. Each of them had high praise for the accomplishment so for of the joint Israeli-Egyptian military committee overseeing the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai Weizman indicated that he believed Israel and Egypt together could manage the smooth implementation of the peace process in Sinai without outside intervention. Hassan Ali did not demur.
The issue of future peacekeeping forces in Sinai is expected to be on the agenda of their talks during the Egyptian Minister’s three-day visit. The problem stems from the Security Council’s decision last week to replace the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai with an expanded United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) force. That proposal emerged from behind-the-scenes U.S. -Soviet negotiations at the UN. Israel is adamantly opposed to a UNTSO force. The UNEF mandate expired at midnight last Tuesday.
Hassan Ali was greeted at Ben Gurion Airport with full military honors. Weizman embraced his guest and in Sabra-style Arabic said, “Fariqel Awal, Kamal Ali, ahalan wa-sahalan” which means “Gen. Hassan Ali, welcome.” The Israeli defense chief then switched from his Sabra-accented Arabic to English, declaring that Ali’s visit affords an opportunity to review the last four months in which the joint military committee has done an excellent job, including the orderly transfer of two areas of Sinai, including its administrative capital, El Arish, to Egypt. This was done without the help of anyone, not even of the UN, Weizman observed pointedly.
Hassan Ali, who had accompanied President Anwar Sadat on previous visits to Israel, is here for the first time as the head of his own delegation. “I am glad to be here again,” he said. “I have come to discuss with the Israeli Minister of Defense the good work done hitherto by the Israeli-Egyptian joint military committee and I am sure that the good work will continue. I hope that the deliberations of the military committee will be successful whenever it meets.”
WILL DISCUSS WITHDRAWAL TIMETABLE
Weizman said his discussions with Hassan Ali will concentrate on the next steps in the withdrawal timetable so that at the end of nine months from the date of ratification of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the demarcation line between the two countries will extend from El Arish on the Mediterranean to Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea as called for by the treaty.
Prior to Hassan Ali’s arrival, Weizman said he might propose to the Egyptian General that Israel and Egypt solve the question of policing the treaty requirements between themselves. The joint military committee was, in fact, reported to have made a number of concrete suggestions to that effect.
“We have the experience of the last four months of mutual life in Sinai,” Weizman said. “We shall learn from the past experiences and we shall take care of the needs for the future. The mutual life in Sinai brought positive results but there are problems as well. We shall speak on the positive and negative aspects so that the wrongs are repaired and the peace in the future will be strengthened.”
He and Hassan Ali travelled by motorcade to the Tel Aviv Hilton Hotel where at noon today the two ministers entered a conference room on the 17th floor, overlooking the sea, for a session of the joint military committee. Not only the hotel but the municipal plaza was decorated with Israeli and Egyptian flags. The Egyptian general and his entourage later visited Dizengoff Street where scattered applause greeted them. Later he was guest of Mayor Shlomo Lahat at City Hall. Tomorrow, Hassan Ali will visit Jerusalem, Haifa and points in Judaea and Samaria.