JERUSALEM (Jan. 23)
Israeli circles here are increasingly pessimistic about the chances for success as a result of the forthcoming extraordinary session of the Israeli-Syrian Mixed Armistice Commission which, if it opens at all, is to be convened Wednesday on the Syrian side of the international bridge connecting Israel with Syria at B’net Yaacov. The second session, if one is to follow, is scheduled to be held on Israel’s side of the same bridge.
The pessimism here is motivated principally by Israel’s awareness that the basic issue separating Israel from Syria is not the cultivation of farm lands in the demilitarized zones between the two countries, but Syria’s avowed policy of aggression against Israel.
Observers here noted that, practically on the eve of the ISMAC session, proposed by Lt. Gen. Odd Bull, chief of staff of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization, and officially summoned by U.N. Secretary-General U Thant, Radio Damascus continues to broadcast anti-Israeli threats and pledges of renewed aggression against Israel.
One basic point which Israel has stressed to the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization is that chances for the success of the talks depend to a considerable degree On continued border tranquility and enforcement by the Syrian Government of measures to prevent “Palestinian” terrorists from infiltrating into Israel. Israel has also made it clear to the U.N. that, under no conditions, will she tolerate enlargement of the agenda mutually agreed upon for the special ISMAC session by all three sides — Israel, Syria and UNTSO. That fixed agenda deals exclusively with the rights of cultivating farming lands in the demilitarized zones.
POSSIBILITY OF SYRIA’S MANEUVERING TO TORPEDO THE TALKS SEEN
Some observers here have even begun to doubt whether Syria would actually attend the meeting scheduled for Wednesday or see it through. Damascus could easily torpedo the negotiations and try to lay the blame for the session’s collapse on Israel, by demanding enlargement of the fixed agenda at the first session. It is believed here that, should the talks fail, the Secretary-General would be obliged, under the United Nations Charter, to convene a meeting of the Security Council to discuss the Israeli-Syrian crisis.
Meanwhile, preparations for Wednesday’s scheduled session were being made on all three sides. UNTSO was making last minute technical preparations for the talks. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s top aides on this issue conferred on the matter with the Premier last night. Among the leading conferees, in addition to a half-dozen other experts, were Foreign Minister Abba Eban; General Yitzhak Rabin, chief of staff of Israel’s defense forces; and Zvi Dinstein, Deputy Minister of Defense. Mr. Eshkol himself is Minister of Defense.
Similar meetings were reportedly being held today at Damascus, although it is not yet certain that Syria would attend or go through with Wednesday’s scheduled session.
Gen. Bull is due to fly to Damascus Wednesday morning for eleventh hour consultations with leaders of the Syrian Government. He is to return to the site of the extraordinary session on the Syrian side of the B’not Yaacov bridge later that day to act as chairman of the opening session of ISMAC.