Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands agreed today to participate in the multinational peace-keeping force that will patrol the Sinai Peninsula after Israel completes its withdrawal on April 25.
Pulling back from their original contention that participation in the U.S.-sponsored multinational force was linked to the European Community's Venice Declaration of June 1980, and its tenet that the Palestine Liberation Organization must be involved in a comprehensive Middle East peace agreement, the four nations today said that their function in the peace-keeping force had been defined by Egyptian-Israeli agreements.
Envoys from the four countries met for an hour with Israeli Foreign Ministry Director General David Kimche. They subscribed, in effect, to a joint U.S.-Israeli statement issued in November saying that the Camp David peace accords are the basis for the multinational force and that the Venice declaration is not relevant to participation.
A Foreign Ministry official said tonight that the letters of participation, which were not identical in language, will be considered by the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday. He said the letters were being studied by Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir, and that there would be no official Israeli reaction until Sunday.
However, Israeli sources said the letters appeared to satisfy Israel's demand that the four European countries not link their participation in the 2,500-member multinational force to any European peace initiative that conflicts with the Camp David peace process.
The U.S.-Israeli statement on the multinational force was drafted in November after Shamir flew to Washington at the request of U.S. Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. Israel's rejection of the four European countries on the basis of their adherence to PLO participation in the peace process had been expected to make it difficult for the United States to enlist Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who agreed to participate only with the involvement of Britain and the other EEC countries.