The Israeli government protested to the United States and Egypt today about statements by Egyptian leaders that if Syria tried to recapture the Golan Heights from Israel, Egypt would consider it a defensive war and could fight along with Syria.
According to an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan sent a protest note to U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance. Prime Minister Menachem Begin sent a copy of that letter along with a personal noto to Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
The contents of neither message was disclosed. Earlier in the day, however, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said the remarks attributed to Egyptian leaders threw into doubt that country's acceptance of the peace treaty recently signed with Israel.
Egyptian Prime Minister Mustaffa Khalil was quoted by news agencies as telling the Egyptian Cabinet on Sunday that: "if Syria made an attempt to liberate the Golan Heights by force, this should be considered a defensive war and the joint Arab defense pact could be invoked."
Moreover, Egyptian Foreign Minister Boutrous Ghali was quoted as saying that Egypt could extend assoicated assistance to the Palestine Liberation Organization "because under the U.N. charter, the PLO is waging a liberation war."
Stressing that Israel has received no direct message, the Foreign Ministry official said, "Fi the quotations are correct... then they are opposed to the treaty, to its spirit and to the contents of some specific paragraphs, and obviously they create concern in Israel."
Even before the instruments of (treaty) ratification have been exchanged, and even before we start the implementation of the treaty, already there are declarations of Egyptian personalities that are interpreted as opposed to the treaty and its spirt," said the spokesman.
The statements by Khalil and Ghalil, in reply to criticm by a minority of deputies in the People's Assembly who are opposed to the peace treaty, touched off the first public dispute between Israel and Egypt since Begin's ice-breakeing visit to Cairo last week.
The remarks also conincided with the postponement of an exchange of the formal documents of ratification, which was to have taken place Tuesday at a U.S. manned early warning listening post in the Sinai Peninsula.
ttno official explanantion for the postponement was offered by either side but both Israel and Egypt tended to minimize its importance, stressing the need to complete technical arrangements and mentioning the Jewish Passover holiday. The ceremony is now scheduled to take place April 17.
The exchange of ratification documents will automatically begin the nine-month withdrawal of Israeli troops from half the Sinai Peninsula, and also start the one-month deadline for negotiations to begin an autonomy for 1.1 million Palestians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Foreign Ministry officials also expressed chagrin over statements attributed to Khalil that Palestinian refugees living outside the occupied territories should be permitted to vote for members of the autonomy council, and that residents of East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in 1967, should also vote.
Khalil's statement about assisting Syria particularly touched a nerve end for israel, because of the long and bitter dispute during the peace treaty talks over the so-called "priority of treaties" clause.
Egypt sough, unsuccessfully, to remove a clause stating that in the event of a conflict between obligations it has because of treaties with other Arab states, the pact with Israel will still be binding. Instead, a vaguely worded clause was inserted stating that there is no assertion that any treaty prevails over another.