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Israel Does Not Believe Egypt Will Break Relations

A government official expressed belief today that Egypt would not break diplomatic relations with Israel, as Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamal Hassan Ali warned yesterday in an interview in Le Monde if Israel invaded west Beirut.

The official noted that Ali subsequently modified his warning by saying that an Israeli invasion “might affect relations between the Israel and the Egyptian people.” Ali, in his interview, said: “If Beirut is taken by assault, I do not see how we could continue to have normal diplomatic relations with Israel.

In the immediate aftermath of the interview Israeli officials were quoted as saying that if Egypt broke relations and abandoned the autonomy talks, Israel might annex the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Maariv quoted an official as pointing out to the Egyptians that Premier Menachem Begin’s government coalition was recently broadened to include ministers who would be enthusiastic about annexing the area. This was an apparent reference to the entry of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya faction into the coalition.