Israel Begins Policy Reappraisal but Holds Egypt Prime Danger

Ambassador Abba S. Eban returned here for three weeks of consultations prior to the convening of the United Nations General Assembly and began a busy round of consultations at the Foreign Ministry today. He had a long private meeting with Foreign Minister Golda Meir and then attended meetings with Foreign Ministry department chiefs in an overall review of Israel’s foreign policy and issues that may arise next month in the General Assembly.

Israel’s position on issues before the Assembly was to have been the chief question in the Foreign Ministry talks with the head of its UN delegation, but the latest dramatic developments in Syria have overshadowed other issues and formed the central subject of the talks here.

ISRAEL SEEKS LIGHT ON U.S. POSITION

There was a growing awareness in the Foreign Ministry that the presence of a Soviet satellite right on Israel’s border had resulted in a fundamental change in the entire Middle East picture, necessitating a reappraisal of Israels foreign policy. Such a reappraisal required an accurate estimate of United States plans and intentions, since much may depend on the question of what America was ready to do to attempt to reverse the Communist coup in Syria.

William Baxter, United States Charge d’Affaires, met with Mrs. Meir today. The subject of their talks was not disclosed but it was assumed that the Syrian situation had been discussed.

The far-reaching crisis in Syria must not be permitted to obscure the fact that Egypt remains the principal danger to Israel and that areas of existing dispute with Egypt continue to provide the greatest threat of an Israel-Arab explosion, authoritative sources asserted here today.

HOLD EGYPTIAN ACTION MOST LIKELY TO PROVOKE TROUBLE

Noting that the pro-Soviet coup in Syria had not changed Egypt’s policy of obstructing Israeli-bound shipping in the Suez Canal nor threats to interfere with such shipping in the Gulf of Akaba, the informants said any interference with Israeli shipping in either waterway would be more likely to spark renewal of hostilities than some incident on the Syrian border, despite Syria’s growing role as a Soviet satellite.

The informants said the origin of “reports, rumors and impressions” that the Syrian developments would bring President Nasser of Egypt closer to the West was not clear. They suggested that the reports might be coming from Nasser as a “propaganda smoke-screen.”

In any case, these sources said. Israel was discounting all such speculations, a position believed shared by the Eisenhower Administration.

They also reported that reports were reaching Jerusalem that Italy was striving for an active role as peacemaker in the Middle East, a bid which included a desire to become West Europe’s spokesman in the Israel-Arab situation. Israeli officials were understood to be negative to the reported Italian ambitions.

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