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Cabinet Approves ‘in Principle’ Sinai Peace Monitoring Plan

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The Cabinet yesterday approved “in principle” the Sinai peace monitoring plan worked out in Washington last month but Israel will continue to press the United States to establish a multi-national force to ensure treaty compliance during its phased withdrawal from the peninsula.

Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor announced that decision after yesterday’s session and said that Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan was “authorized” to convey to the U.S. Israel’s proposed “amendments and clarifications.”

MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE A MUST

No details were given. It was learned, however, that Israel will inform the U.S. that it will not complete its withdrawal from Sinai by the 1982 deadline unless a multi-national force is established as envisioned by the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty Israel will also insist that such a force be protected by a contractual agreement which would preclude any unilateral decision to withdraw it. The “amendments and clarifications” reportedly consist of 10 points–six of them substantive and four changes in the wording of the original proposal.

The Sinai monitoring plan was agreed to by Dayan and Defense Minister Ezer Weizman at a series of tripartite meetings with Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Egyptian Defense Minister Kamal Hassan Ali in Washington. It provides for coordinated but separate Israeli and Egyptian patrols in the Sinai buffer zone and electronic and aerial surveillance by American civilian teams already in Sinai.

Israel’s approval of the plan was delayed because of serious reservations expressed by several ministers who insisted that the U.S. must create a multi-national force. The Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee unanimously rejected the plan last week. Dayan defended it as an interim arrangement pending the establishment of a “serious force that could undertake the heavy peace-keeping work.”

Israel is also expected to ask the U.S. to increase the size of its observer force in Sinai beyond the 200 civilians authorized by Congress. There are presently 170 Americans staffing the advance warning stations in Sinai. Israel was said to agree to their being assisted by United Nations personnel on condition that neither Israel nor Egypt would have any dealings with the latter or be authorized to demand their withdrawal. Only the Security Council would have that authority.

DEADLOCK IN SINAI OIL TALKS

The Cabinet also discussed the deadlock in the Sinai oil talks between Energy Minister Yitzhak Modai and his Egyptian counterpart. No agreement has been reached until now on the supply of Sinai oil to Israel and at what price after the oil fields are returned to Egypt.

Israel reportedly will seek American mediation on this issue. Among other things, it wants to know what President Carter meant when he referred to the “international price” in his letter on oil supply that was appended to the Camp David agreements.

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