JERUSALEM (Feb. 28)
The Cabinet agreed today that Israel would have to forego “the important visit” of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak unless he agrees to include Jerusalem on his itinerary. That decision was announced by Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor after Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir briefed his colleagues on his three-day visit to Cairo last week at today’s Cabinet session.
Although Shamir returned from Egypt with the clear impression that Mubarak would not go to Jerusalem, negotiations on that delicate matter reportedly were continuing. Observers here anxiously awaited the Egyptian reaction to the Cabinet’s position.
Earlier today, Israeli and Egyptian officials denied a Voice of Israel Radio report that Premier Menachem Begin had sent a firm message to Mubarak a week ago insisting that he visit Jerusalem or not make the trip. The message was sent prior to Shamir’s departure from Cairo, according the radio report, and was also conveyed to Mubarak by Shamir when they met last Thursday.
Sources here said the initial denial was apparently an attempt to cover up the dispute which now is in the open. Israel has been insisting that Mubarak pay his visit before the April 25 deadline for Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai. Israeli reporters who accompanied Shamir to Egypt said Mubarak was wary of holding a summit meeting with Begin before that date because it might embarrass him in his efforts to restore Egypt’s good relations with other Arab states.
MUBARAK SAID TO BE CONCERNED
Mubarak was also said to be concerned that Israel might take pre-emptive military action against the Palestinians in south Lebanon immediately after he meets with Begin. It was recalled that Israel bombed Iraq’s nuclear reactor shortly after Begin met with the late President Anwar Sadat at Ophira in southern Sinai last June, an action which severely embarrassed the Egyptian leader who had no advance knowledge of Israel’s plans.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali, who hosted Shamir on his visit to Cairo was reported as saying today that Israel has given no ultimatum to Egypt with respect to Mubarak’s trip. Radio Monte Carlo’s Cairo correspondent reported over the weekend that Israel is trying to create “on artificial crisis” over the issue. That, reportedly, prompted Mubarak and Hassan Ali to send urgent messages to the U.S.
MUBARAK SENDS MESSAGE TO REAGAN
Mubarak reportedly sent a message to President Reagan today, delivered by the Egyptian Ambassador in Washington, Ashraf Ghorbal. Foreign Ministry sources in Cairo said the message dealt with the Palestinian autonomy issue and other aspects of the Middle East peace process but they did not know if Mubarak’s impending visit to Israel was also mentioned.
Shamir said on his return from Cairo late Thursday that he was “much more relaxed and confident” than he was when he left for Egypt three days earlier. “I am convinced that the peace process will continue,” he told reporters at the airport. He also said Mubarak had promised to make his visit to Israel, though no date has been set.