JERUSALEM (Apr. 17)
Premier Shimon Peres and President Hosni Mubarak might hold a summit meeting next month. It would be the first direct contact between the leaders of Israel and Egypt since the war in Lebanon began almost three years ago and the Israelis apparently are determined to press for a package deal which would resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries.
The summit meeting became a tentative probability following the visit to Cairo Monday and Tuesday by Minister-Without-Portfolio Ezer Weizman who has emerged as one of Peres’ closest associates in the national unity Cabinet.
Weizman met with Mubarak as well as with Prime Minister Kamel Hassan Ali who invited him to Cairo, Foreign Minister Abdel Ismet Meguid and the Egyptian Defense Minister. He told reporters in the Egyptian capital yesterday that a summit meeting was “in the cards” but that a great deal of preparatory work had to be done beforehand. He noted pointedly that on the Israeli side, this work would be done exclusively by the Foreign Ministry.
Weizman’s trip to Cairo had been vehemently opposed by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, the leader of Likud, partly on the grounds that all diplomatic contacts with Egypt must be conducted by the Foreign Ministry.
ELEMENTS IN THE PACKAGE DEAL
Israeli reporters who accompanied Weizman to Cairo said the minister pressed the Egyptian defense chief to permit renewed searches for Israeli soldiers of the Yom Kippur war still posted missing in the Suez Canal zone, and for the bodies of Israelis in the sea off Alexandria.
The latter presumably would be the 69 crew members of the Israeli submarine Dakar which vanished in the Eastern Mediterranean, possibly in Egyptian waters, while on her delivery voyage from Britain on January 25, 1968.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin today listed some of the issues he said Israel wants to include in its “package deal” approach to talks with Egypt.
In addition to the search for missing bodies, these include the unfulfilled portions of the Israel-Egyptian peace treaty calling for normalization of relations, the return of the Egyptian Ambassador to Israel — recalled in 1982 — and the dispute over Taba, a tiny strip of beach near the Sinai border on the Gulf of Aqaba which both Israel and Egypt claim.
Labor and Likud ministers are unanimous that all of these issues comprise a “package” for discussion. But there may be differences over the specific approaches taken to individual issues. Taba is an example of possible dissension within the unity government. The Egyptians insist the dispute be submitted to arbitration. Some Laborites are prepared to agree but Shamir and the Likud apparently are not.