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Egypt and Sudan Land Arrangements

March 8, 1978
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Egypt and have had bi-national arrangements over large areas of land with each other’s sovereign territories for the past 83 years that Israel is now asking Egypt to grant in Sinai, a Congressional hearing disclosed yesterday.

In a fresh development regarding Israeli security and Egyptian sovereignty, a map was introduced by Rep. Stephen Solarz (D. NY) that shows what he said is “precisely the same arrangement” Israel is seeking for the Rafah salient that adjoins the Gaza Strip.

The Library of Congress, Solarz said, is completing a study at his request on the Egyptian Sudanese agreements that have been functioning smoothly since 1895. The study will be made public within a few days.

Solarz unrolled this geographic development at a hearing by the House International Relations subcommittee on the Middle East at which the State Department presented a security supporting assistance program of $750 million for Egypt for the coming fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The fund is the same as Egypt is receiving this year except that two-thirds of the amount will be a gift.

This year, the fund is two-thirds in loans. Besides this program, the U.S. will again supply Egypt with about $200 million in agricultural commodities under the Food for Peace program.


The map Solarz presented for Congressional scrutiny is along the twenty-second degree parallel that separates Egypt and Sudan. The Sudanese government exercises authority over the large triangular area within Egypt in which Sudanese people live. The area is washed by the Red Sea and runs about 400 kilometers along the Egyptian-Sudanese border.

On the same basis, Egypt controls a smaller area that is within Sudan and extends about 50 kilometers along their common border. In both cases, these areas are for larger than the Rafah salient which is only six-tenths of one percent of Sinai.

Israel has conceded Egyptian sovereignty over Sinai but wants Israeli civilian police to control the Rafah area and three airfields in Sinai. Israel has been severely criticized as “intransigent” for seeking what is now revealed as exemplified for eight decades by Egypt itself with a neighboring country.

“If Egypt is able to live with this program for more than 80 years,” Solarz said, “it can live with it in the Rafah area with Israel for the next eight years. If it’s good enough for the Sudan, it’s good enough for Israel.”

“This analogous situation,” Solarz told Nicholas A. Veliotes, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Middle Eastern Affairs, is “an instructive precedent” for “a measure of agreement in the Sinai and an Israeli presence in the Sinai.”

Veliotes responded that he was not aware of these two Sudanese-Egyptian agreements and commented he was “not sure they are analogous,” but added, “We would be happy in whatever Egypt and Israel agree.” (By Joseph Polakoff)

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