Sharon: Agreement Meets Threat to Israel and Free World from the USSR

Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon defended the memorandum of understanding he signed yesterday with Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger as a means of meeting the threat to Israel and the “free world” from the Soviet Union and “forces controlled by the Soviet Union.”

Sharon, who made the statement after an hour-and a half meeting with Secretary of State Alexander Haig at the State Department, has cut short his visit to the United States and is flying home to Israel to defend the memorandum in the Knesset against votes of no confidence in the government to be submitted by the Labor Alignment and the Communist Party. Sharon said he was certain the opposition moves would be defeated.

Both Sharon and Haig said that their meeting today concerned the friendly relations between Israel and the United States. Sharon noted that

during what he called a “good meeting,” he “felt the friendship of this great democracy for our own country.”

Haig said they discussed many bilateral issues between Israel and the United States, the Mideast peace process and regional security. Sharon, explaining that the memorandum of understanding implements the strategic cooperation worked out by Premier Menachem Begin and President Reagan during Begin’s visit to Washington in September, said that Israel is faced by “two circles of threats.”

He said one is from the Arab countries which have not signed a peace agreement with Israel as has Egypt. He said, that as Begin said during his visit to Washington, “Israel is capable of defending itself” and has never asked and never will for American soldiers to come fight for its defense.

Sharon said that the second circle is the threat from the Soviet Union, and “forces controlled by the Soviet Union.” He said Israel considers this a threat to the region and the entire “free world.”

Sharon stressed that the memorandum of understanding signed yesterday was “unclassified” and presented to the press. He said that the working groups and coordinating councils which will work out the U.S.-Israeli agreement may decide on details that will be “classified.”

Sharon was responding to reports on Israel Radio that there was a secret codicil to the agreement announced yesterday. He was at pains today to stress that the agreement was public and only some of the later arrangements might not be publicized.

ANTICIPATE ISRAELI STATEMENT ON THE MFO

Haig, who said the U.S. was pleased by the agreement, also said he would “anticipate a joint Israeli-American statement” on the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) that will patrol the Sinai after Israel’s final withdrawal next April. The Israeli Cabinet has been studying a proposed joint statement worked out by Haig and Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir during their 7 1/2 hour meeting here last week.

The statement was an effort to prevent Israel from rejecting Britain, France, Italy and The Netherlands from participating in the Sinai force because of their statements supporting the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in the Mideast peace negotiations.

Haig would not comment today on reports that the U.S. and Israel would not expect the Europeans to endorse their joint statements thus signifying their approval by silence.

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