Israelis Skeptical of Reports of Arab Change of Heart on New York Peace Talks

Diplomatic sources here today discounted reports disseminated from Arab quarters that the Arab-Israeli deadlock would soon be broken as a result of Arab agreement to “indirect” talks at United Nations headquarters in New York. Although Israel has also agreed to talks in New York, there have been no new developments and the Arab-inspired “optimism” is part of their propaganda warfare intended to make the Arabs appear more reasonable before international opinion, these sources said. They stressed that as long as Arab spokesmen continued to reject Israel’s basic requirement — acceptance of the Nov. 22, 1967 Security Council resolution for a just and lasting peace in secure and recognized borders — there can be little hope that direct peace talks will get started. As long as the word “peace” is missing from Arab statements, those statements amount to little more than “eyewash,” the diplomatic sources stated.

(A Christian Science Monitor dispatch from the United Nations today quoted reports from Cairo to the effect that “President Nasser has apparently come to the conclusion that a solution in the Middle East must be sought in diplomacy, not war.” The dispatch said that Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg would not have spoken as forcefully as he did last week when he called on the Security Council to give explicit expression of its support for the Jarring mission “had not Washington been convinced that circumstances in the Middle East now are favorable.” An editorial in the Christian Science Monitor today warned of the dangers in failure to negotiate an Arab-Israeli understanding now in the light of the Russian involvement at Egypt’s side. The editorial said this was “reportedly now down to the squad level” and it asked: “What happens, for example, if Russians start getting killed?”)

(The London Evening Standard reported today that the Soviet Union was beefing up Egypt’s submarine fleet to the point where Egypt may enjoy maritime control of the Eastern Mediterranean. The paper said that Russia had supplied 16 submarines to Egypt, eight minesweepers, eight sub-chasers, 18 missile craft, 44 torpedo boats, six rocket assault vessels, 18 landing craft and six tugs.)

(In London, King Hussein told a press conference that the Arabs were “genuinely striving” for peace but were being blocked by Israel’s refusal to implement the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22. He told newsmen that “if time passes and no progress is made, we will have to search for other ways and means.”)

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