Egypt wants to rewrite two articles in the increasingly contested draft peace treaty with Israel in addition to tightening the link between the treaty and Palestinian self-rule, authoritative sources say.
Egyptian objections to the treaty text, in public at least, previously had centered on only one article. The questions now over a second article seemed certain to inject new complications into the flagging negotiations between Israeli and Egyptian representatives.
The Israeli Cabinet, which first rejected the treaty and then accepted it, has now refused to reopen talks on the treaty itself, saying the pact as it stands is a take-it-or-leave-it package.
Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, who visits the Middle East next week to keep the talks going, apparently hopes to resolve the linkage issue by including any new agreements in side letters to the treaty.
But diplomatic sources believe the two requested treaty amendments may turn out to be a bigger obstacle than the linkage question because they are part of the treaty itself and apparently cannot be dealt with by such subsidiary documents.
Egypt's newly revealed objections concern Article 4 of the treaty, on security arrangements in the Sinai after Israeli withdrawal and the presence of U.N. buffer troops on the border between Egyptian and Israeli forces.
The Cairo newspaper Al Ahram, in a report confirmed by participants in the negotiations, said the disputed article stipulates that the Sinai arrangements "may at the request of either party be reviewed and amended by mutual agreement of the parties" and that this wording would mean the arrangements could not last because they could be called into question by either side at any time.
Other sources say Egypt also wants to set a time limit on the U.N. presence and the restrictions, on Egyptian force levels in the Sinai, not because of future warlike intentions but because Sadat regards these provisions of Article 4 as an infringement on Egyptian sovereignty
The previously known Egyptian treaty objections concerned Article 6, which commits Egypt to consider its obligations under the peace pact with Israel as overriding any obligations in its 1951 collective security agreement with other Arab nations.
Egyptian officials say the tentative acceptance of Articles 4 and 6 by Egypt's negotiators at the Washington talks last month did not commit President Anwar Sadat to approving them, and that he insists on their revision.
According to sources familiar with the negotiations, Sadat and his advisers rejected the wording of Article 6 as soon as it was brought back from Washington and reprimanded the negotiators for their tentative acceptance. The trouble over Article 4 apparently took form later, and has not been widely discussed in public.
Of the two articles in question, the more difficult to resolve is said to be Article 6. But there has been speculation that Sadat might be underlining his objections to the treaty language only with an eye to dropping them later in return for Israeli concessions on the linkage issue.
In any case, the Egyptians have been marshaling a brief against Article 6 by saying it is without international precedent, that the U.N. Charter sanctions regional defense pacts and wars of self-defense, that it confers on Israel a special status held by no other state, and that it is unnecessary because no other Arab country is going to make war on Israel without Egypt.
What Egypt wants, according to one of Sadat's closest advisers, is to replace the whole article with a brief declaration that both sides will carry out the treaty in "confidence" or good faith.
"We want to put in just one line," he said, "saying that both parties in mutual confidence will respect the treaty."
As written, he said, "it is going to be hard on Sadat. It is going to make a big difference in our relations with the other moderate Arabs. Why does Israel insist? Who is going to benefit from making this trouble for Sadat?"