Jerusalem (Dec. 3)
The Cabinet today ratified the joint American-Israel draft statement which was formulated last week in Washington by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir and Secretary of State Alexander Haig as the basis for European participation in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO). (See related story from Washington.)
According to government officials, the four European nations which announced last week that they would participate in the Sinai peacekeeping force — England, France, Holland and Italy — would be asked to support the principles set down in the draft. This would make it clear, the officials said, that the Sinai force would function strictly within the Camp David framework. It was not immediately clear whether Israel would insist that the Europeans publicly accept this principle. It is expected, however, that each of the four countries will submit letters of acceptance.
At the same time, Israel will not ask the Europeans to alter their position on the Middle East peace process which was expressed in the Venice declaration of June 1980. In it, the Ministers of the European Economic Community called for the Palestine Liberation Organization to be associated in the Mideast peace process. This was also the basis on which the four European countries announced that they would participate in the Sinai force.
According to officials here, the U.S. was in touch with the European countries regarding the draft statement during its formulation. Thus, the wording of the statement is not expected to meet with European disapproval. Officials said that the statement would probably be passed on to the Europeans by the Israeli Ambassadors in the four countries involved.
Acceptance by the Europeans of the U.S.-Israel joint statement would clear the way for Australia and New Zealand to participate in the Sinai peacekeeping force. Both countries indicated they would participate only if the Europeans were involved. In addition, other countries which announced they would participate are Colombia, Fiji and Uruguay. The U.S. will contribute more than half of the 2,500-member force.