JERUSALEM (Jan. 13)
The Foreign Ministry today received letters from the Ambassadors of Britain, France, Italy and Holland stating those countries’ readiness to participate in the Sinai peacekeeping force. Officials here said the letters would be studied by the Cabinet at its regular meeting this Sunday but gave no other response.
The letters are not identical. But all refer to the “clarifications” each of the four powers sent to Secretary of State Alexander Haig on November 26 in which they stated: “We all recognize that the function of the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) is as defined in the relevant Egyptian-Israeli agreements.”
That initial statement was acceptable to Israel. But on the following day the four governments simultaneously released statements in which they linked their participation to the European Economic Community (EEC) ministers’ Venice declaration of June, 1980, which Israel flatly rejected. The Venice declaration called for the Palestine Liberation Organization to be associated with the Middle East peace process.
On December 3, Israel and the U.S. published a joint statement establishing that participation in the MFO was to be based solely on the Camp David accords and asked the four European powers to endorse it.
NO SPECIFIC ENDORSEMENT
It was learned that the letters received today contained no specific endorsement but carefully avoided reference to other EEC positions. Thus there was no apparent linkage between their offer to contribute to the MFO and the elements to which Israel objected.
Observers here said it was no coincidence that the letters arrived on the eve of Haig’s visit to Israel. The Secretary of State met with EEC foreign ministers in Brussels Monday, before coming to the Middle East. He said in Cairo yesterday that the four powers had confirmed to him that they would participate in the MFO. According to the observers, the letters would be found satisfactory from Israel’s point of view.