Officials here said today that Israel expects Egypt to honor its January 1974 disengagement undertaking to permit the transit of Israeli cargoes through the Sues Canal when the waterway is officially reopened for the first time in eight years on Thursday. But, the officials said, Israel, for the present does not intend to test Egypt on this point but would await a statement of intention from the Egyptians–either publicly or through a third party–before attempting to send a cargo through the canal.
So far, the public response by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat on the matter of cargoes has been hedging and non-committal although the Egyptian leader voiced approval of Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s announcement yesterday that Israel would unilaterally thin out its forces in Sinal on the eve of the canal’s reopening. Defense Minister Shimon Peres announced this morning that the thinning out process will be completed by 8 a.m. local time tomorrow.
But Sadat, in an ABC television interview in Salzburg, Austria last night where he had just concluded two days of meetings with President Ford, said the thinning out action by Israel was “not sufficient” to justify lifting Egypt’s embargo on Israeli cargoes. Asked to define what conditions would be required to end the embargo Sadat replied, “I answered this question before and I said it will be according to the conduct of Israel. If the conduct of Israel is like it started today (Monday) there will be no problem in this. It has nothing to do at all with the cargo.”
SADAT’S REMARKS ‘ENCOURAGING’
Nevertheless, Israeli officials said they found Egypt’s reaction to the “thinning out” gesture to be “encouraging,” the very word Sadat himself used yesterday to describe the Israeli move, Peres, who toured the Sinai front today with Chief of Staff Gen, Mordechai Gur, said the disengagement agreements specifically called for Egypt to permit Israeli cargoes through the canal in foreign ships and said he hoped Egypt would indeed comply with this undertaking. He said there was no need to supervise the Israeli reduction of forces because both sides use electronic surveillance devices which gave them a good picture of what the other side was doing.
Peres disclosed that Israel has found the bodies of ten more Egyptian soldiers killed in the Yom Kippur War in Sinai and would return them to Egypt.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.