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Israel Wants a U.S. Role in Multinational Force to Be Set Up in Sinai After Final Withdrawal

Israel would like to see the United States participate in a multinational force to be set up in Sinai after the final withdrawal to police sensitive strategic spots. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said this weekend that this issue would be high on the agenda of priorities that Israel seeks to raise with the new Reagan Administration.

The final withdrawal date under Israel’s peace accord with Egypt is April 1982. Under the peace treaty package, a multinational force must be set up–if the United Nations is not prepared to play the peacekeeping role. This force would be present at Sharm El Sheikh, guaranteeing free passage through the Straits of Tiran and along the northeastern coast of the peninsula.

Negotiations over the post-withdrawal peace keeping arrangements have proceeded desultorily between the U.S. and Israel and between the U.S. and Egypt since the treaty went into its first phase last year. A key issue has been the multinational force, with Israel insisting that all detailed provisions for it be worked out before the final withdrawal.

TWO OTHER PRIORITIES

Addressing the America-Israel Friendship League in Tel Aviv, Shamir listed two other priorities for the Israeli dialogue with the new Reagan Administration:

The autonomy talks, which have marked time for many months now: the Foreign Minister said he was convinced an agreement could be concluded by the end of 1981. He criticized Egypt for putting up demands which, if met, would lead to the creation of a Palestinian state and therefore deviate from Camp David.

Saudi Arabian influence in the U.S.: Israel is deeply concerned over this, Shamir said. The Saudi image of “moderation” is entirely unjustified in the context of the Israel-Arab conflict he said. Only recently, the Saudis had called for a “Jihad” (holy war) against Israel.

CONCERN OVER GERMAN-SAUDI ARMS SALE

Shamir expressed Israel’s “deep concern” to German Ambassador Klaus Schuetz last week over Bonn’s reported plans to sell Leopard II tanks and other sophisticated weapons to Saudi Arabia.

He told the envoy that German clarifications received by Israel had not been satisfactory and had not allayed Israeli concern. It was “hardly thinkable,” Shamir said, that German weapons should threaten the security of the Jewish State.

There have been reports in German and foreign newspapers for the past several weeks that Bonn is contemplating a major arms deal which would be a reversal of its long time policy of not supplying arms to areas of conflict.

Supporters of the arms sale within the German government are said to argue that pro-Western Saudi Arabia is a stable and friendly state and therefore should not fall within the “areas of conflict” restriction. Ambassador Yohanan Meroz of Israel met with Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher of West Germany on this issue last week.

The matter may come up tomorrow in a scheduled meeting between West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and visiting Israeli Labor Party chairman Shimon Peres who will briefly visit Bonn on the last leg of a swing through major European capitials.

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