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Israel Asks for “earliest Possible” Answer from Arab States on Its Peace Proposal

Following up his oral request yesterday to U.N. mediator Count Folke Bernadotte to transmit an Israeli invitation to the Arab governments for a peace conference, Foreign Minister Moshe Shertok today confirmed this request in a letter to the mediator. Shertok asked in the letter for the earliest possible reply from the Arab states, to be sent through Bernadotte.

There was great surprise today among the Jewish population at Shertok’s sudden peace proposal to the Arabs, especially since Israeli military leaders are inclined to the view that a third round of warfare might prove to be decisively in favor of Israel. In addition the belief had grown here that war was again becoming inevitable.

It is understood that King Abdullah of Transjordan is ready to act on Shertok’s peace move by calling a special conference to consider Israel’s invitation. It is also learned from U.N. circles here that the King will propose that plenipotentiaries from all the belligerent parties meet to discuss armistice terms.

U.N. CIRCLES OPTIMISTIC ON OUTCOME OF DIRECT ARAB-JEWISH TALKS

Abdullah’s strong card today is the plight of some 250,000 Arab war refugees and the adamant stand taken by the Israeli authorities that they are not prepared even to consider the return of the Palestine Arabs prior to a general peace settlement. It is understood that, for his part, Abdullah will take the position that a settlement of the refugee problem is essential if the Arab states are to be spared a catastrophe this winter.

Because of this situation, United Nations circles here are more optimistic about a constructive outcome to the negotiations between the Arab states and Israel than consideration of the surface facts night otherwise warrant.

(Israel’s invitation to the belligerent Arab states for peace talks was praised highly today in the New York press. The New York Times, in a leading editorial, welcomed the invitation, declaring that the move for direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab governments “is in line with the statesmanlike policy pursued by the Israeli Government since its formation.” The World-Telegram commented that “all friends of peace and international order will be encouraged by the statesmanship of Foreign Minister Shertok of Israel in taking the initiative”)

It was learned here today that the annual meeting of the United Nations Educational Scientific, and Cultural Organization, which was scheduled to take place this year in Beirut in October, has been postponed because of the Palestine situation.

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