Jerusalem (Dec. 15)
Israel launched a massive information campaign abroad today to head off mounting international criticism of yesterday’s action by the Knesset and Cabinet to apply Israeli law on the Golan Heights, a move that amounts to annexation.
Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir dispatched letters to the foreign ministers of all countries with which Israel has diplomatic ties explaining the background and motives behind the move. Last night, the Ministry sent out information papers to Israeli legations and diplomatic missions all over the world replete with legal, strategic and political arguments.
A Ministry spokesman said this material had been prepared months ago at the instruction of Director General David Kimche, in view of the long-standing decision-in principle to extend Israeli law and administration to the Golan Heights.
WORD ‘ANNEXATION’ NOT USED
In all of these papers and information guides, the Ministry has refrained from using the term “annexation.” But neither is it making a point of differentiating between what Israel did and annexation. Israeli diplomats are instructed to stick precisely to the wording of the bill adopted by the Knesset last night: The application of “Israeli law, jurisdiction and administration” to the Golan Heights.
Privately, however, officials explained that Israel’s action was a shade less than annexation inasmuch as it was not proposing to impose Israeli citizenship on the non- Jewish inhabitants of the Golan Heights, mainly Druze.
There was no indication today how the Israeli move would affect the pending decision by four European countries — Britain, France, Italy and Holland — to participate in the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai. Israel is a waiting the response of those countries to its joint declaration with the U.S. affirming the Camp David agreements as the basis for the MFO. The response had been expected to be favorable. But Israeli circles now fear the Europeans might reconsider their offer to contribute to the MFO because the Arab countries are certain to view it as acquiescence in Israel’s move on the Golan. (Related story P.2.)
AUTONOMY TALKS RESUME
On the other hand, Israeli government officials were relieved when it appeared that Egypt’s protests against the Golan law would not lead to a disruption of the peace process. That became apparent when the working level autonomy talks resumed in Tel Aviv today with the Israeli, Egyptian and U.S. delegations participating.
In addition, the Egyptian Minister of Tourism, Gamal el-Nazer, arrived in Israel today via the overland Sinai route for a visit that had been arranged some time ago. He conferred with Shamir and according to Israeli sources, their conversation was limited to the normalization of relations and the Golan issue was not raised.