Dr. Henry Kissinger, the much travelled American Secretary of State faces his most difficult Middle?
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Background: Dr. Henry Kissinger, the much travelled American Secretary of State faces his most difficult Middle East settlement mission this week with discussions with Israel and Egypt over the Sinai Desert.
Israel at present holds the strategic Mitla and Gidi Passes and the Abu Rodeis oil fields. If Dr. Kissinger can persuade Israel to withdraw her forces from these areas the Jerusalem Government would accept nothing less than a legally binding document signed by Egypt to end the long and bloody dispute and start improving relations man to man.
Among the groups with a vital interest in the outcome of the latest settlement moves is the United Nations peace keeping force stationed in the buffer zone separating the Egyptian and Israeli forces in the Sinai. More than a thousand men have been stationed in the zone for a year. Their mandate runs out in April.
Only a few miles separates the Egyptian and Israeli military...but the gap on the political front is a great deal wider.
Dr. Kissinger has said he is hopeful agreement between the two nations can be reached. Basically he will be seeking a pullback by Israel and an assurance by Egypt that further war won't be waged...at least for a pre-arranged period of time. He will point out that Israel won't lose by handing over the Abu Rodeis oil fields...the Shah of Iran has offered Israel all the oil it wants and the U.S. is prepared to help pay. It is problematical what Dr. Kissinger can gain from Egypt in return. President Anwar Sadat is reluctant to give Israel the public promise of no more war.
Over-riding these discussions is the attitude of the rest of the Arab world. A number of Middle East countries have said there should be no separate agreements made with Israel. The Palestinians want also to be included in any settlement, and will use violence to press their case.