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Report Possibility of Israeli-egyptian Accord on Peace Force

July 26, 1979
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israel and Egypt have agreed not to let the bitter dispute over the nature of a future United Nations peacekeeping force in Sinai develop into a confrontation between them and may, in fact, be on the way to working out their own solution, sources here indicated today.

The possibility of a bilateral agreement between Jerusalem and Cairo emerged as Israel reacted angrily to UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim’s announcement last night that a United Nations Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) force will replace the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Sinai. (See separate story.)

Senior diplomatic sources, quoted in Moariv, said that neither Waldheim not the U.S. can take one sided steps in Sinai without Israel’s agreement. The UNEF mandate expired at midnight last night. Its replacement by an expanded UNTSO force, which Israel flatly rejects, was proposed by the U.S. and Soviet Union after behind-the-scenes negotiations at the UN last week.

Israelis regard this as a breach of President Carter’s undertaking at Camp David to form a multinational force to police the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sinai over the next three years should UNEF be dissolved. The Americans insist that UNTSO fills the requirement for a multinational force.

Israel Radio reported late last night that Israel and Egypt have raised the possibility of an agreement to voluntarily keep out of the Sinai demilitarized zones after UNEF is withdrawn, except for the early warning stations that each country maintains. If both countries respect the demilitarized zones there would be no need for an outside force. Another alternative would be for Israel and Egypt to maintain joint patrols, Israel Radio said. These proposals were said to have emerged from yesterday’s meeting of the joint Israeli-Egyptian military committee.

They are expected to be discussed at greater length between Defense Minister Ezer Weizman and Egyptian Defense Minister Kamal Hassan All who begins a three-day visit to Israel this Sunday. Weizman was reported yesterday to have told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that Israel and Egypt would be best off if left to police their peace arrangements between themselves. Weizman is also said to have stated that he personally was not troubled by the idea of a UNTSO force. But a majority of the government favors the presence of another multi-national force.


Former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon of the opposition Labor Party, upheld Israel’s position regarding UNTSO which he called “disappointing from beginning to end.” He warned that “Israel must not lend itself to support a breach of an agreement. We must insist that the agreement is honored.”

But Allon castigated the government for waiting until the last minute to tackle the issue. “The government of Israel saw fit to deal with the issue only after the decision had already been taken and the Soviet veto (of UNEF) had been imposed,” he said. “We knew beforehand when the UNEF mandate would expire. I do not understand why this pressing and acute issue was not resolved during (Premier Menachem) Begin’s recent visit with (President Anwar) Sadat in Alexandria,” Allon said.

Meanwhile, Hugo Rotscha, a spokesman for the UN forces in the Middle East, said the future maintenance of the Sinai demilitarized zones is under discussion. The withdrawal of the 4000-man UNEF force will take about six weeks to complete. The 120-man UNTSO force will remain in the region pending further instructions. Rotscha also replied to Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s charge that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) provides “an umbrella for terrorist activity.” He observed that the Palestinians in Lebanon maintain the UNIFIL serves as an umbrella for the Israel-supported Christian Militia in south Lebanon.

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