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Eban Sees Possibility of Direct Settlement Between Israel, Palestinian Arabs

Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban Indicated in an interview published here today that there was a possibility of some sort of direct settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Arab community although such an arrangement would be no substitute for general peace treaties with the neighboring Arab states.

According to an article in the Sunday Observer, Mr. Eban said that Israel was not now negotiating any solution based on a separate Palestinian state. However, the Israeli diplomat stated, “I think the longer Jordan repulses negotiations, the stronger will be the impulse among Palestine Arab leaders to work out the best settlement they can with Israel, and the longer Jordan abstains from negotiating, the greater will be the tendency in Israel to explore that possibility.”

Mr. Eban also commented on the joint Soviet-Egyptian statement issued on President Nasser’s departure from Moscow last week which called for Israel’s total withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories. “They have not even said that if we were miraculously persuaded to put ourselves back to the June 4, 1967 positions that they would end their conflict with us.” he said. “On the contrary, it would continue until what they call the ‘rights of the Palestinian people’ have been fully satisfied.”

Mr. Eban noted that his Government had made it clear to the United Nations peace envoy. Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, that it did not see the present cease-fire lines as ideal or permanent. “We are prepared to replace them by agreed and secure territorial boundaries and we have suggested an agenda for peace talks in which we stressed that boundaries with Egypt and Jordan are open for negotiation.” Mr. Eban declared. He also rejected the reported offer by Cairo to permit Israeli cargoes, though not Israel-flag ships, to navigate the Suez Canal in return for a pull-back of Israeli troops from the canal’s east bank. “This does not interest us. Once we abandon the principle of equality we go back to the belligerency that has tormented the region all these years.” Mr. Eban said.

He said that if “Palestinian Arab leaders were to seek to negotiate with us on a settlement of all questions between them and us, most of my colleagues and I would favor exploring such a possibility.” Mr. Eban thought that the Palestine Arab community could serve as a “bridge to the Arab governments favoring peace, or failing, they could reach an arrangement with Israel that could create and expand the possibility of co-existence which has already emerged.”

(Reporting on talks held with Mr. Jarring, Mr. Eban told the Israel Cabinet Sunday that the UN envoy does not regard his mission as nearing its end. He said that Gideon Raphael, director-general of the Foreign Ministry, told Dr. Jarring in their London talks last week that Israel pledges to support his mission.)

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