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Reagan’s Solid Commitment to Camp David Process Was a Factor in Persuading Israel to Return Sinai

A solid commitment by President Reagan to the Camp David peace process and the autonomy negotiations and his personal appreciation of the “sacrifices” Israel has made by returning Sinai to Egypt were a major factor in persuading the government to complete the withdrawal from Sinai last Sunday, it was disclosed here today.

The text of the letter Reagan sent to Premier Menachem Begin an April 20, while the Cabinet was deliberating over the withdrawal, was released here today. Although it contained no new commitments, the Israelis were pleased to have a reiteration of past American pledges to Israel, particularly the endorsement of the Camp David accords and the autonomy scheme from a President who had no part in negotiating those accords. Reagan stated, in his letter to Begin.

“You, President (Hosni) Mubarak (of Egypt) and I are in agreement that the Camp David framework is the only agreed plan to solve (the Palestinian) problem … The U.S. remains commited to make its best efforts to pursue an early and successful conclusion of negotiations for full autonomy and the establishment of a self-governing authority (administrative council) for the Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza, as called for in the Camp David framework.”

PLEDGE TO SUPPORT ISRAEL’S SECURITY

Reagan’s letter also contained a pledge to support the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) in Sinai. “It is in the U.S. abiding security interests to ensure that the treaty of peace is rigorously applied and respected and that challenge to it from whatever quarter are met and overcome. I am commited to this end,” he wrote.

The letter dwelt at length on Israel’s security needs. Reagan wrote, “I am determined to see that Israel’s qualitative technological edge is maintained and am mindful as well of your concerns with respect to quantitative factors and their impact upon Israel’s security.” He added that “It goes without saying” that all U.S. -Israeli agreements “particularly since 1973″ remain valid.

Israeli sources said that reference includes military supply agreements and the 1975 Memorandum of Understanding by which the U.S. refused to have any contacts with the Palestine Liberation Organization unless and until it recognized Israel’s right to exist and accepted UN-Security Council Resolution 242.

Finally, Reagan wrote of his “sensitivity” to the “angulsh” suffered by Israel in the course of its withdrawal from Sinai. “History will show that your sacrifices have ensured the security of the State of Israel and the Jewish people,” the letter said. Israeli sources believe that Deputy Secretary of State Walter Stoessel Jr. was closely involved in drafting Reagan’s letter.

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