Israeli government officials said yesterday they were confident Middle East peace negotiations with Egypt would go on despite President Anwar Sadat's expulsion of the Israeli military delegation.
The delegation flew back yesterday to Tel Aviv in an Egyptian air force plane.
One government official said Israeli regards the expulsion as an "isolated incident," and the head of the nine member Israeli delegation, Col.Yaacov Ehal, said:
"This is not the end. It is only the beginning of the negotiating process."
The delegation, which stayed in Egypt after peace talks broke down in January, was said to be used occasionally to transmit peace feelers.
[In Washington, a state Department spokeman said officials would have preferred that the expulsion of the Israelis hadn't occurred "because of the interpretation that may be placed on it."]
[But the spokesman, Thomas Reston, said that he still expects new Israeli-Egyptian negotiations to be held next month]
Meanwhile, Arab foreign ministers said they have agreed on the basis for a possible Middle East peace platform after meeting at the conference of nonaligned nations in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.
Details of the proposal were not disclosed, but it is the first joint Arab peace effort that includes Egypt since Sadat took his lone initiative to Jerusalem last year.
U.S. Ambassador Alfred Atherton, the roving Middle East mediator, meanwhile, pressed ahead with his shuttle by scheduling a meeting with IsraeliPrime Minister Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan.
Today Atherton is to travel to Egypt for more meetings. Washington hopes they will lead to a resumption of direct Israeli-Egypt talks in about two week, when U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance is to travel to the Middle East.