Mubarak's 'no' to Jerusalem worries Israel
Jerusalem — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's apparent refusal to visit Jerusalem has raised ominous doubts in Israel about the durability of the Camp David peace accords.
''The honeymoon is over,'' commented the mass circulation daily, Maariv, referring to Israel's relations with Mr. Mubarak.
Keenly aware that withdrawal from the final part of Sinai deprives it of its last major bargaining card in the peace process with Egypt, Israel has been pressing Cairo for reassurances that relations between the two countries will remain ''normalized'' after the April 25 pullout.
In this context, considerable symbolic importance had been attached to the expected visit by Mr. Mubarak, the first by the new Egyptian President since he succeeded the late Anwar Sadat last year. It had been Mr. Sadat's bold descent on Jerusalem in 1977 and his skillful use of the grand gesture that swept aside Israeli reservations about Egyptian intentions.
Mubarak, by contrast, has been for Israelis a distant, dour figure who seems calculating rather than visionary.
He has repeatedly assured Israel of Egypt's intentions to continue with the peace process after April 25. But his movement of Egypt back toward the Arab camp has been watched here with concern. Most troubling, was the absence of any indication of Mubarak's emotional commitment to peace with Israel such as Israelis had perceived in Sadat.
A visit to the city Israel claims as its capital could have gone far toward meeting this need in Israel for reassurance. Not to visit Jerusalem would be perceived as a retreat from Sadat's initiative.
The invitation to Mubarak had been given informally by Prime Minister Menachem Begin in Cairo when he attended Sadat's funeral last October. Mubarak accepted. Israel pressed for the visit to take place before the April pullout and Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem had indicated that it would be a four-day state visit.
In recent weeks, however, Cairo had indicated reservations about the visit, declining to fix a date. It became apparent here that the Egyptians were concerned about the impact of such a visit on Cairo's attempts to revive relations with the Arab world.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir flew to Cairo last week to clarify the situation and was told that President Mubarak would indeed come to Israel but only for a one-day ''working visit'' that would not involve a visit to Jerusalem.
Disappointed, the Israeli Cabinet Feb. 29 told Mubarak in effect to stay home. ''If President Mubarak insists that Jerusalem not be included in his visit to Israel,'' it declared, ''we will have to do without this important visit.''