JERUSALEM (Aug. 12)
A new “peace offensive” by Egypt was discounted in official quarters here today as nothing more than another attempt to confuse world opinion over Cairo’s true stand on the Middle East conflict. Diplomatic sources said that no Egyptian proposals of any kind have been received here.
Their comments concerned a dispatch in the New York Times yesterday from its Cairo correspondent, Eric Pace, attributing to “well informed Arab diplomats” a report that Egypt was prepared to grant “substantial concessions” to Israel. Mr. Pace said that the diplomats, “who are advisers of President Gamal Abdel Nasser,” indicated that the concessions “had been communicated privately to Israel.”
They purportedly included internationalization of the Gaza Strip, waiving past demands for the repatriation of Palestinian refugees, and demilitarization of the Sinai Peninsula. In connection with the latter, Mr. Pace reported, Cairo was willing to waive its right to order the removal of United Nations peace-keeping forces if they were deployed again in the Sinai. In addition, according to Mr. Pace, “the diplomats reported that Cairo would agree to allow Israeli vessels to continue to pass through the Straits of Tiran” and “would permit Israeli cargoes to pass through the Suez Canal if Israeli troops evacuated a strip of desert just beyond its east bank.”
Mr. Pace reported that “some observers outside Egypt have contended that Cairo was leaking details of its position to appear conciliatory while still refusing direct negotiations with Israel.” Israeli officials here said that Egypt’s true attitude had been clearly defined in recent speeches by President Nasser which ruled out negotiations or recognition of Israel. They pointed out that in his latest speech, the Egyptian leader stated that “the rights of the Palestine people” would still remain an issue, even if Israel withdrew behind the armistice lines of May, 1967. They said that if the newest Egyptian maneuver was anything more than propaganda it could be easily ascertained through the United Nations peace envoy, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, who will resume his mission in the Middle East later this month.