WASHINGTON (Sep. 18)
Representatives of Israel, Egypt and the United States were conducting bilateral and trilateral sessions today discussing the monitoring of Sinai after Israel withdraws from the area, but other issues appeared certain to enter the talks at the State Department.
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who is handling the sessions, was closeted first with Israel Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman. After an hour’s talk, they were joined by Egypt’s Defense Minister Kamal Hassan Ali. The discussions continued this afternoon with a working lunch in between.
At issue is whether the U.S. will honor its Camp David commitment to Egypt and Israel that if the armed United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) is not renewed to guard Sinai then the U.S. would establish its own international force. The UNEF mandate was not renewed by the UN Security Council last July. Israel is understood to insist that the U.S. keep its pledge and organize the force while Egyptian-Israeli patrols, agreed to by Egypt and Israel two weeks ago, jointly monitor the peninsula until the U.S. sponsored force is established and functioning.
The U.S. has accepted a Soviet proposal that the unarmed UN Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) under the control of UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim monitor Sinai. The Soviet Union had opposed the renewal of UNEF.
As the meetings progressed this afternoon, State Department spokesman Hodding Carter said that the U.S. position is to reach agreement on guarding Sinai with Egypt and Israel before faking other steps. He made this statement after being asked whether the U.S. would consult with the Soviet Union or the UN regarding peace-keeping forces in Sinai.
Carter insisted, however, that UNTSO is “an instrumentality capable of performing the job” and that UNTSO supplies a ” satisfactory solution.” But he added that “it is not the only one.” President Carter’s special envoy to the Mideast Robert Strauss, Israel’s Ambassador Ephraim Evron, and Egypt’s Ambassador Ashraf Ghorbal also participated in the meetings.
ISRAEL TO CONSULT WITH U.S. ON FUTURE BOMBINGS
Meanwhile, in a related Mideast development, Rep. Paul Findley (R.III.) said today that Weizman had promised that Israel would consult with the U.S. before launching any new preemptive strikes against Lebanon with American-supplied weapons. Findley said Weizman authorized him to disclose that pledge, made at an off-the-record meeting with members of the Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.
According to the Congressman, the Israeli defense chief told him that “If Israel in the future should find it necessary to use U.S.-supplied military equipment in any preemptive strikes it would first talk with the United States.” Findley, who has called for an inquiry into Israel’s use of American equipment in Lebanon, said Weizman’s promise represented “a significant and gratifying change in Israel’s military policy.”
Weizman, himself, met with editors and reporters of the Washington Post who demanded to know Israel’s views of the West Bank in light of the Cabinet decision. “I don’t know what the final status of the West Bank is going to be and I don’t think we should discuss it now, ” the Post quoted Weizman.” I think there are certain problems in the world that don’t have definite solutions, “Weizman also said. He cited the situations in Quebec, northern Ireland and Kurdistan.
The issue came up after President Carter, on the first anniversary of the Camp David accords yesterday, promised to participate personally in Mideast peace talks if they again face trouble. Welcoming Israeli and Egyptian leaders in Washington to the White House, Carter said, “In the future, if there are obstacles of a seemingly insurmountable nature, I would be deeply committed to becoming involved.”