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Behind the Headlines Javits Sees New Israeli-Egyptian Interim Agreement As Only Chance to Advance Pe

July 3, 1978
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The "best chance" to advance the Middle East peace process now would be a "third Sinai disengagement agreement" between Israel and Egypt, according to the senior Senator from New York, Republican Jacob K. Javits. The Senator made his views known in a breakfast interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the Senate Friday.

An Egyptian-Israeli agreement on the Sinai would be "a limited achievement, but that is all you can do now, "Javits said."It’s not a peace agreement, but there is no use pretending one is possible. If you pretend it is you will get nothing but retrogression which is not good for the Middle East or the United States," he said.

Javits believes, however, that Egypt and Israel should renew their joint political committee talks in Jerusalem from the point where they broke off last January when President Anwar Sadat of Egypt unexpectedly called his delegation home. The Senator, who has spoken critically recently of some aspects of Israeli policy, believes that the Carter Administration should have had a "stronger" reaction to Egypt’s "sudden departure from Jerusalem."

Javits said that "instead of trying to invent new ideas and meetings and new techniques for negotiations," Israel and Egypt should resort to traditional international discussions on the ministerial level. He suggested as a first step that Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Egypt’s Minister of War Mohammed Gamassy should act toward "tranquilizing Israel’s western front and opening the door with Jordan and others on the eastern front." He pointed out that Gamassy and Weizman had been close to agreement on security problems in the Sinai when the joint military committee talks in Cairo were suspended following the break-off of the political talks in Jerusalem.


Discussing the Carter Administration’s frequent criticism of Israeli government policies and its support, or silence, on pronouncements by Arab governments, Javits said "The White House believes–wrongly in my view–that it has to have the Arabs on its side; that the Israelis have to settle but the Arabs don’t have to and they have to be wooed because they have land, population and wealth. But the Arab world is in turmoil; all the Arab kings sit on shaky thrones," Javits said.

The Senator will be the ranking Republican member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January with the retirement of Sen. Clifford Case of New Jersey, who was defeated in his party’s primary elections last month. He urged that the Middle East be handled in a "pragmatic way" and on a "case-by-case" basis rather than on "generalized principles." He observed that on the West Bank, for example, "abstractions about self-determination are not going to be nearly as important as security positions, what happens to the Jewish settlements, the administration of the area, internal and external immigration and the area of economics."

He said that the U.S. government’s refusal to characterize the Palestine Liberation Organization as terrorist is, presumably, to keep its "lines open with everyone in the Arab world." He said the Carter Administration believes you have got to win the Arabs to peace and that the Israelis need peace and have to go along." He agreed that it would be embarrassing for the U.S. to label the PLO "terrorist" when Saudi Arabia, described by President Carter as among "our staunchest friends," supports that group financially.


"Let us stop dissembling about the PLO because Sadat is still talking seriously about self-determination–another trade word for a PLO state,"Javits warned. Egypt, with U.S. support, is pressing for Israel to agree to a "self-determination for the Palestinian Arabs while Israel points out such an act would enable the PLO to take over the West Bank and Gaza and threaten its existence," Javits said.

Discussing suggestions that the Congress modify the Jackson-Vanik Amendment linking U.S. trade credits to the Soviet Union with the latter’s emigration policies, Javits said the amendment is a "test of wills." The American Jewish community, he said, "has stood that test extraordinarily well, notwithstanding the Soviet reduction of the numbers of emigrants. There has been no tendency (by the Jewish community) to capitulate," he said. Until the Soviet Union adheres to the Helsinki agreement, "we have to stand fast. The benefits (to the USSR) of regularizing Soviet trade with the U.S. are becoming greater all the time. That’s the issue President Carter should push in July at Bonn" where the Western nations and Japan are to hold a major economic conference, Javits said.

He said that once "harmonization of policy by the West and Japan is achieved, the Soviet Union will have to come to terms with us." According to Javits, the "Soviets" ability to reduce or increase the number of emigrants should not induce us to modify Jackson-Vanik." He suggested that "Only a set agreement on when and how the Soviets intend to honor their obligation on freedom of emigration based on the Helsinki declaration" should be the factor for change in the U.S. trade law.

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