TEL AVIV (Dec. 10)
Egyptian units, supported by about 15 tanks, today launched a heavy attack against the Jewish settlement of Nirim, south of Gaza, in the Negev, an official Israeli communique said. The attack, which began before noon, was repulsed by nightfall. The government also revealed that in a recent clash in the Negev, the Egyptians lost a battalion, with the number of dead alone above 100.
Commenting on a suggestion made by chief U.N. observer Gen. William Riley that the Israelis permit another supply convoy to proceed to the Faluja area, where a large force of Egyptian troops are encircled, an Israeli Government spokesman said today the Faluja question depends on the outcome of armistice negotiations, “The mere acceptance of negotiations is not sufficient,” he added. “We want something more tangible, like the exact date of a meeting.”
The spokesman also said that the Israelis could not understand why a minor liaison meeting between the Jews and Iraqis last Sunday was “blown up” by Gen. Riley, He said that Israel is prepared to negotiate an armistice with the Iraqis–or with any other Arab army or state–provided the Iraqi Government formally appoints representatives to such talks.
Commenting on press reports that moves have been made by Britain, France and the United States to reopen the oil pipelines from Iraq to Haifa, although not for oil to be refined in Israel but for refining abroad, the spokesman said that the Israeli Government would consider the matter when it is approached with regard to Haifa. He stated that reopening of the oil lines would be more in the interests of Iraq, since the Bagdad Government is at present losing royalties.
(In Washington, a State Department spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying that the Department preferred to withhold comment lest current negotiations with Iraq become complicated.)