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Privately, Brittish officials are upset that Israel has tried to exact a price for a European role in the Sinai peacekeeping force. Israel has demanded that Britain, France, Holland, and Italy stand guard in the Sinai after the Egyptian takeover in April only on the basis of the Camp David accords and protocol. This runs counter to the Common Market declaration in Venice in 1980 that calls for the Palestine Liberation Organization to take part in peacemaking.

Britain only agreed to volunteer about 100 men for the new force when the US asked. London knew from the start it faced problems, since it was wedded to the Venice formula. It still isn't known if Israel asked the Europeans to state publicly that they will take part based on Camp David, or if they must merely keep silent about Venice.

''Pretty breathtaking, really,'' is how one British official sums up Israel's demand - even though it is assumed London eventually will play ball.

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