TEL AVIV (Jul. 31)
Alleged violations by Egypt of its peace treaty with Israel were discussed here today by Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Egypt’s Defense Minister Kamal Hassan Ali who ended his three-day visit to Israel this afternoon. The violations, apparently the first charged by Israel since the treaty was signed last March 26, concern the manning of the civilian airfield at El Arish by Egyptian military personnel.
Hassan Ali, speaking to reporters after his meeting with Weizman, acknowledged that this was the case but explained that unarmed military personnel ran the airport because Egypt has a shortage of trained civilian personnel. Later, at a press conference at Ben Gurion Airport prior to his departure for Egypt, Hassan Ali said Egypt was preparing a civilian team to man El Arish airport. (See separate story.)
Israel charged that from the time El Arish and its adjoining airfield were handed back to the Egyptians on May 28, the airport was operated by soldiers, served as the base for a military helicopter squadron and was equipped with powerful radar and other equipment that Israel considers to be of a military nature. The peace treaty specifies that the El Arish airport is to be for civilian use only.
The matter was raised with the Egyptians some time ago. They explained that the radar and other equipment was needed as navigational aids for civilian aircraft and noted that except for Cairo International Airport, all civilian airports in Egypt are manned by Air Force personnel. Hassan Ali said in reply to reporters’ questions today that this was because of the lack of trained civilian air traffic controllers and navigators. He pointed out that the soldiers at El Arish carry no arms.
He said that Egypt was carrying out the treaty provisions to the letter and observed that if it had wanted to cheat, it could have brought military personnel to El Arish airport disguised as civilians.