WASHINGTON (Jun. 9)
State Department sources indicated today that Israel may accept military rather than political talks with Egypt, as desired by the United Nations.
The Israel position, it is stated here, is that such talks to resolve frontier friction, to be effective, must be held on a sufficiently high level. The Egyptians have made known that they would like to keep such meetings on as low a military level as possible.
Israel circles have gained an impression that the United States stands behind a United Nations proposal to bring about discussion between Egypt and Israel. The proposal was made by Gen. E.L.M. Burns, Chief of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization.
(The United States is trying to force Egypt to accept high level meetings with Israel, a highly placed Egyptian source charged in Cairo yesterday. An official statement by Lt. Col. Salah Gohar, Egypt’s propaganda minister, that Egypt was ready to participate in a Security Council meeting on the Gaza border situation was released in Cairo.)
It was learned here, meanwhile, that reservations are held by Israel as to whether a demilitarized zone bordering on Gaza, as proposed by Egypt and endorsed in other quarters, would be useful. Israelis fear the proposal might even bring about increased bloodshed. Apprehension is held lest it would create a frontier vacuum with an increase in clashes and infiltration. This has been the Israel experience with other “demilitarized” zones because military jurisdiction is unclear in such situations.
Israel desires direct military authority right up to the frontier. Israel troops must patrol within view of the frontier because of strategic considerations involving the terrain. Joint patrols might not be acceptable because of the reluctance, from a psychological point of view, of Israel frontier settlers, to see Egyptian soldiers on Israel territory.