Jerusalem (May. 25)
A pledge that Egypt will not allow any other Arab country to “impose” war by Egypt on Israel was made today by Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s vice president, in an interview with Maariv.
“We will not be a tool in the hands of any element which wishes to cause problems with Israel,” Mubarak declared, in an obvious reference to the promises of aid by Arab countries to Syria in the dispute over Syria’s placement of surface-to-air missiles in Lebanon. Israel has threatened to remove the SAM missiles by force if Philip Habib, President Reagan’s special envoy who is now engaged in Mideast shuttle diplomacy, fails to resolve the controversy.
Mubarak’s comments were identical with the content of a message sent over the weekend to Premier Menachem Begin by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, delivered to Begin by Egypt’s ambassador to Israel, Sa’ad Mortada.
Sadat urged Begin not to use military force against Syria, an action he said which might be “a glorious achievement” for Israel in military terms “but in the long term would be worthless.” Sadat declared he was giving this advice “as a friend who is concerned with achieving peace between Israel and the Arab nation.”
URGES INTERNATIONAL FORCE IN SYRIA
Mubarak said in the interview that the Lebanese problem could be solved only if the 25,000 Syrian troops now in Lebanon were withdrawn. He said those troops should be replaced by an international force or a combination of forces from other Arab countries. He said that what is now going on in Lebanon “is acts of settling accounts.”
He expressed the belief that the Soviets were backing the Syrian troops, adding that Syrian President Hafez Assad “cannot do a thing” without the Soviets. He declared that Assad recently visited
Moscow to meet with the Soviets on the Lebanese crisis. There has been no independent confirmation of such a visit.
Mubarak reaffirmed that Egypt would continue normalization with Israel after the final Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai next April. He said that now that Egypt and Israel had normal diplomatic relations, Israel’s status in Egypt “is identical to that of any other country with which we have contacts.” He asked rhetorically whether Sadat had invited Israel’s Agriculture Minister, Ariel Sharon, to come to Israel to start agricultural cooperation “so that it will cease in April, 1982?”
However, the Vice President also asked the Israelis not to rush with normalization, commenting that “you want everything in one day. Let things take their course naturally.” He also urged an early solution to the problem of autonomy on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip so that “we can all face the Soviet danger.”
In his letter, Sadat warned that an Israeli-Syria war would unite the Arab world around Syria. He said that would be an undesirable development for Israel. Sadat’s message was a reply to one from Begin last week in which Begin assured Sadat that Israel would do its utmost to avoid war with Syria, though Israel must defend its “vital interests.”
MULTINATIONAL FORCE BEING DISCUSSED
In a related development, it was disclosed here that Israel, Egypt and the United States would discuss this week in Cairo the multinational force to be deployed in Sinai, as agreed to in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, after the Israeli’s withdrawal next year.
The Israeli delegation, which left today for Cairo, is headed by Foreign Ministry director general David Kimche and Gen. Avraham Tamir. The U.S. is being represented by Michael Sterner, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia. Egypt is being represented by Ossama el Baz, Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs.