Knesset Unit Rejects Accord on Israel’s Sinai Withdrawal Worked out in Washington by Dayan, Weizman
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Knesset Unit Rejects Accord on Israel’s Sinai Withdrawal Worked out in Washington by Dayan, Weizman

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The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee unanimously rejected the agreement worked out in Washington a week ago for monitoring Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai and decided today to raise the matter with Premier Menachem Begin for clarification and possible changes.

The volatile reaction followed a briefing by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan who along with Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, hammered out the arrangement in a series of meetings with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Egyptian Defense Minister Kamal Hassan Ali. It is subject to approval by the three governments. But the angry objections raised in the Knesset committee and by a number of ministers during a heated debate in the Cabinet yesterday have cast doubt on the final outcome.

The consensus of the Knesset body, after hearing Dayan, was that the interim monitoring agreement in Sinai “deviated from the peace agreement and forecasts trouble.”

The committee contended that the small American civilian group maintaining surveillance in Sinai cannot fulfill the functions of the multinational force that the U.S. was supposed to assemble under the provisions of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. The committee designated its chairman, Moshe Arens of Likud, and another member, Yehuda Ben Meir of the National Religious Party, to bring their views before Begin.

Dayan briefed the Premier on the plan last Sunday morning and Begin presumably endorsed it. But the Cabinet meeting, held yesterday instead of Sunday because of Yom Kippur, reached no conclusions and adjourned after an angry exchange between Dayan and his critics. The Cabinet is expected to complete its discussion at its next session.


Dayan outlined the main points of the Washington agreement: There will be American aerial reconnaissance combined with joint Israeli and Egyptian patrols in the Sinai buffer zone; the Americans will continue manning their electronic early warning stations in Sinai; and the United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) will continue its present limited functions. Dayan said these preliminary conclusions have yet to be finalized in further talks between the U.S. and the UN Secretariate.

Dayan argued in the Cabinet and before the Knesset committee that although the agreement was in essence a temporary arrangement, it represented a very significant advance in the American position which had been to rely on UNTSO, a condition unacceptable to Israel.

Some ministers accused the Egyptians of retreating from the agreement reached between Begin and President Anwar Sadat at their summit meeting in Haifa last month; namely that the joint patrols would cover the limited forces zone as well as the buffer zone. Others complained that what ever was worked out in Washington was framed as a protocol or memorandum rather than an ironclad agreement.

Arens, who talked to reporters after today’s meeting of the Knesset committee, contended that the agreement would not provide Israel with “positive proof that we will be able to display to the world in case there is a violation.” He said he did not accept Dayan’s comment that he and Weizman had gotten the best possible deal in Washington.

“I don’t think that as for as Israel is concerned, when we talk about the most basic of Israel’s security interests, it is a question of judging a deal by whether it’s the best deal possible under the present circumstance.” Arens said. He warned. “When Israel withdraws from the Sinai and in effect, will be facing Egypt on the 1967 borders, it is a matter of providing for ourselves assurances that we are not taking significant dangers upon ourselves.”

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