Israel Will Talk with Arabs Only on Face-to-face Basis, Rafael Declares

Gideon Rafael, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, declared here today that Israel will attend peace talks with the Arabs “only if it is assured that we will meet accredited representatives of the other side.” Israel has no intention, he said, “to conduct negotiations from separate rooms or at separate tables. All that had to be clarified has been clarified and the time has come to sit down to practical negotiations.”

Mr. Rafael made his remarks at an informal meeting with several local newsmen. He branded as incorrect, a statement attributed to a U.N. spokesman yesterday that Dr. Ralph Bunche, the U.N. mediator at the 1949 Rhodes armistice talks, had said both sides sat separately at that meeting 19 years ago.

(At the United Nations today, Dr. Bunche said that “I have never made any comment for publication about any aspect of those talks and do not intend to make any at this time, even to correct mistakes, because I do not think that it would be helpful to do so in the present circumstances.”)

Quoting official U.N. documents, Ambassador Rafael said “the Israeli and Egyptian delegations arrived at Rhodes on Jan. 12, 1949 and the first meeting between the two delegations was held on Jan. 13, when Dr. Bunche was unanimously chosen as chairman.” The armistice agreements between the two countries were finalized on Jan. 27 and signed on Feb. 3.

“This is the type of negotiations that Israel now seeks and she has agreed to Ambassador Jarring’s participation in them,” Mr. Rafael said. He added that such a meeting could come about because Dr. Jarring has established sufficient grounds to send out invitations should he so choose. However, Mr. Rafael said, Ambassador Jarring may have reasons for not doing so at once.

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