Jerusalem (Oct. 14)
Israel expressed its displeasure today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s call for Palestinian self-determination, for the return of “Arab Jerusalem,” and for greater “American pressure” on Israel to reach a settlement on Palestinian autonomy. Mubarak made these remarks in an interview with Mayo, the newspaper of the ruling National Democratic Party.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir said today that while there was “nothing new” in Mubarak’s remarks they were, nevertheless, “not a contribution to the peace process.” He added in a radio interview that the remarks represented demands which “Israel has never agreed to and will never accept.”
Speaking in careful and measured tones, the Foreign Minister conceded that the aftermath of President Anwar Sadat’s assassination was “a twilight period, ” a time of heightened fears and anxieties. “Naturally, one fears changes and upheavals,” Shamir noted. But the new Egyptian government under Mubarak had told Israel in the most unequivocal terms that there would be no charge in the ongoing peace process between the two countries.
“However, time will tell,” Shamir added philosophically. Possibly these statements, made so soon after the trauma of Sadat’s death, were not entirely convincing — and therefore it would be well for Israel to watch developments carefully and “wait and see,” the Foreign Minister stated.
“One must think … and one must listen carefully,” Shamir added. But if the Egyptian position is that the peace process continues unchanged — then that would be Israel’s position, too — including the final withdrawal from Sinai scheduled for next April.
REBUFFS U.S. PRESSURES
Obliquely rebuffing American pressures, Shamir said Israel had “undertaken enormous risks at Camp David,” and Sadat’s killing had added to those risks. It was incumbent upon peace-seeking forces in the world therefore to “refrain from adding still more to the risks that Israel must undertake … There is no need for Israel to pay (in the currency of gestures) for the terrible event that has happened in Egypt,” Shamir said.
He confirmed that the possibility of an early pullback in Sinai had been raised — but noted that even the Egyptians said they did not regard it seriously as the withdrawal scheduled deadline was only a few months away. Asked about Secretary of State Alexander Haig’s demand for a freeze on West Bank settlements, Shamir said Israel “is not considering doing anything we are not obliged to do”(under Camp David).
The Foreign Minister seemed especially cagey on a question about the Sudan-Libya tension and possible Israeli involvement alongside Egypt at the side of Sudan. He said this question involved “strategic and political problems” and preferred “not to address myself to it here.”