JERUSALEM (Apr. 26)
A retired Israeli general who has been involved in the military aspects of negotiations with Egypt since 1974, has blamed Israel in large measure for the “cold peace” that currently exists with Cairo.
“Both Israel and Egypt committed a series of political mistakes since the peace agreement (of 1979) and no party can blame the other for full responsibility,” according to Brig. Gen. (Res.) Avraham Tamir in an article published in Yediot Achronot today on the occasion of the second anniversary of the Israeli evacuation of Sinai.
But Tamir, who quit the army last week to join the new Yahad Party headed by former Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, appeared to put the lion’s share of the blame on Israeli governments. The basic mistake of Israel is that it did not use the peace treaty with Egypt as a tool to continue the peace process, he wrote.
Tamir contended that even at the time of the funeral of President Anwar Sadat, Israel had backed off on some issues with Egypt that it had previously agreed to. Israel could have reached agreement on autonomy for the West Bank without compromising its security, he maintained.
CRITICIZES SCORCHED EARTH POLICY
Tamir, who has served as a senior advisor to former Premier Menachem Begin, former Defense Minister Ariel Sharon and to Weizman when he was Defense Minister, took Israel sharply to task for its scorched earth policy in Sinai which he said was in violation of its undertakings in the 1979 peace treaty.
“Until today I don’t understand why they destroyed Yamit,” Tamir wrote, referring to the Israeli town and its satellite settlements built in Sinai. “Today we can even say that there was no reason to destroy Yamit. The demolition of the city did not contribute to the peace process, but rather aggravated the relations between the two countries.”
He said that in the peace agreement, Israel undertook to leave most of the buildings in the evacuated areas of Sinai intact and to sell the Egyptians everything that could not be moved. “We agreed that we would sell the Egyptians those constructions which we could not remove for close to $150 million. The intention was to evacuate the city’s residents, not to destroy the city,” Tamir wrote with reference to Yamit.
He observed in that connection that a Sinai populated with Egyptian civilians could have contributed to the atmosphere of peace.
“Until today, I believe that peace has been an important historic event in the history of the people of Israel,” Tamir wrote. “Some Israeli personalities, whom I do not wish to identify, may want to create out of political considerations, a certain uneasiness (over the peace with Egypt) and they sound battle cries. But to my mind, the basis of peace and the end of belligerency with Egypt still exists.”
Tamir added that he was confident that the Egyptians do not want to return to “the cycle of wars.”