November 16, 1978 – Middle East: Escalating Suspense – Suspended Peace
November 16, 1978 – A day of suspense and suspended animation in the Middle East. Egyptian President was sending his vice-President Hosni Mubarak to convey a message to President Carter: Egypt cannot accept a Peace Treaty with Israel unless Israel was ready to relinquish the Gaza as well as the Sinai. Details, according to Egyptian report were not made available, hence the widespread speculation that Sadat might be putting a higher priority on negotiating action on Gaza than on the West Bank. It was noted the Gaza Palestinians were ready to negotiate – not so with West Bank Palestinians.
President Carter was expected to get the full story when he was scheduled to meet Mubarak later this day. After that, Mubarak was expected to meet with Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizmann, who would in turn, fly home to Israel to join in the Israeli cabinet debate, which had been adjourned until the nature of the Egyptian proposals were determined. In the meantime, suspense escalated and Peace in the Middle East was looking to be at a standstill, much to the annoyance of President Carter.
And there was other news this day – the death toll was still uncertain after the crash of the chartered Icelandic Airlines jet at Sri Lanka. Authorities said about 200 of the Indonesian pilgrims were on their way home from Mecca died when the plane crashed, short of the airfield runway in rainy weather. About 50 people, including some of the plane’s crew survived, many with critical injuries.
Russia was raising eyebrows and concerns on Capitol Hill over their shipment of MIG-23 fighter jets to Cuba. So far as was knon, the Russians shipped about a dozen of the fighters to Cuba, and early intelligence reports said they may be equipped to take nuclear warheads, but it wasn’t absolutely certain. By providing those planes to Cuba, the Russians might be in violation of the 1962 understanding that ended the Cuban Missile Crisis. But the problem was becoming more political than military, as many on Capitol Hill felt the move was in retaliation to the U.S. selling arms to China and wishing to sink the SALT II treaty.
And that’s a small slice of what happened, this November 16, 1978 as heard on The CBS World News Roundup.