MIT ABUL KUM, Egypt (Oct. 29)
President Yitzhak Navon and President Anwar Sadat announced here today their agreement on an eight-point program to expedite the normalization process between Egypt and Israel. It is expected to be ratified by their respective governments and become operable in the near future.
The two Presidents, who met for 80 minutes of Sadat’s villa in this Nile delta village where he was born, also discussed the Egyptian-Israel autonomy negotiations for the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But they had no statements to make on that subject except for the expressed hope that a break through in the autonomy talks will be achieved soon.
“As to autonomy, we have agreed that there should be more effort put into a full autonomy process and this is the role for our governments,” Sadat said, indicating that Navon is not here to discuss the autonomy issues. (See related story P.3.)
The Egyptian President noted significantly that autonomy and normalization were treated on different levels and were not directly connected in their talks. Addressing a joint press conference in the garden of his residence, Sadat said, “Let us not link this and that.” He conceded that Egypt and Israel hold different views on the question of full autonomy. But as to normalization, “we have to do everything to consolidate the relations between Israel and Egypt,” he said.
Sadat gave Navon the honor of announcing that the subjects on which they agreed will be presented to the joint Israeli-Egyptian committee which will convene at an early date either in El Arish or Beersheba to confirm the agreements and put them into action.
POINTS OF AGREEMENT
The following points were agreed to with respect to normalization:
The transportation of commercial goods by truck between Israel and Egypt across Sinai. Hitherto freight traffic has moved by air or sea, more expensive in the first case and more time consuming in the other; Egypt will reinstate the tourist visa arrangements, revoked several weeks ago, for Israelis and others who wish to visit the Santa Katerina monastery in Sinai from Israel; El Al, Israel’s airline, will add a flight to Cairo for a total of four flights a week. Nefertiti, the Egyptian airline, already has two flights a week to Israel.
There will be also a mutual exchange of exhibitions between the two countries demonstrating achievements in agriculture, industry and culture; a joint headquarters will be set up to study the peace process and consider what can be done to enhance it; there will be exchange visits between Israeli and Egyptian youths beginning next summer; delegations of scientists, editors, industrialists and representatives of the various branches of commerce will exchange visits; an Egyptian cultural delegation will visit Israel shortly to discuss cultural exchange between the two countries.
Sadat announced that additional projects discussed were a future highway linking Eilat with Egypt across Sinai and an Egyptian-Israeli railroad.
Today’s meeting was a follow-up of the two hour formal meeting held by Sadat and Navon at the Abdin Palace in Cairo Monday night. They agreed at that time that a second formal meeting was needed to conclude discussion of several subjects not resolved at their initial get-together.
MOMENTS OF EMBARRASSMENT
Both Presidents had their moments of embarrassment at today’s press conference. Sadat appeared upset when a reporter asked if he would cede Yamit, an Israeli town in northern Sinai, to Israel as a gesture of good-will. He replied that such a move would be contrary to the Camp David agreements. “It would be against all that has been agreed and understand. I cannot make gestures on land or sovereignty,” he said.
Navon seemed disconcerted when he was asked if he had instructions from Tel Aviv to refrain from dealing with the question of autonomy. “Not every report from Tel Aviv is true,” he said.
Another issue raised by Navon was the continuing search for the remains of Israeli soldiers still listed as missing in action in the 1973 war. He said the Egyptians have been very cooperative in that matter and will continue to extend any assistance necessary in the search for the MIAs.
All in all, Navon’s two official meetings with Sadat seem to have gone well. The Israeli President stressed after their initial discussion Monday night that he had not come to Egypt to negotiate in detail over outstanding issues but to air and review the situation and consider ways and means to promote the continuing negotiations. He said that Sadat has been consistent in his approach to the issues and stands by the address he made to the Knesset on his historic visit to Jerusalem in November, 1977.
At an impromptu press conference Monday night, Sadat said the question of “full autonomy” had been raised, emphasizing the word “full,” and also the issue of Jerusalem which he sees as related to it. “Yes, we have raised the question of Jerusalem,” he said. “After all, this is part of the general autonomy issue.”
Significantly, the Egyptian media, including its French and English as well as Arabic publications, has given extensive coverage to the Navon visit. Front page articles and photographs are devoted to Navon, describing his personality in detail. Some journalists have suggested that Navon may become Israel’s next Prime Minister. Their thesis is that the opposition Labor Party may unite around him if the bitter leadership struggle between Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Rabin is not resolved.
Navon, who arrived in Cairo Sunday, returns to Israel tomorrow. Tonight, he and his wife will lost a dinner in honor of President Sadat and his wife, Jihan, at the Abdin Palace.