UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Oct. 17)
President Johnson’s order to Secretary of State Dean Rusk to negotiate with Israel for the sale of supersonic jets has had a positive effect on Middle East diplomacy at the United Nations, an Israeli source said today.
While it is uncertain exactly when Israel would get the Phantom jet fighter-bombers it is seeking – if it gets them – the expectation is a delay of a year to 18 months after completion of negotiations. “President Nasser has said that his Army would be ready for war against Israel in 1970, but the Johnson announcement has made him realize that 1970 now cannot be regarded as a war year,” the source said. This in turn has contributed to a seemingly more “pliant” attitude on the part of Cairo to take part in indirect talks with Israel through Dr. (Gunnar V.) Jarring, the UN’s Middle East envoy, the informant said.
The Arabs have apparently decided to abandon emphasis at the UN on their Khartoum formula of no peace, no negotiations and no recognition of Israel, decided last year at an Arab summit conference. This stems from a realization that Israel has been reaping a public relations victory at the UN from the rigid Arab stand, it was reported.
Meanwhile, “movement” in the Jarring peace mission may lead Foreign Minister Abba Eban to return next week to Israel for Cabinet consultations, it was learned. He may stay a couple of days and is expected to return to the UN for further diplomatic efforts. Mr. Eban has presented Dr. Jarring with a lengthy memorandum clarifying points he made last week when presenting an Israeli program for peace. The paper is expected to be presented to Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad and Israel will await a reply, it was said. The nature and content of the reply would indicate to Israel “where we stand.”
(A bitter Arab reaction that many State Department officials predicted would result from Mr. Johnson’s directive last week to start negotiations with Israel on the sale of jets has failed to materialize. Christian Science Monitor correspondent David K. Willis reported from Washington today. “Its relative mildness has caused some sources to wonder if perhaps they had underestimated the degree to which Arab capitals had anticipated the sale of the jets, as an inevitable result of American backing for Israel. Such anticipation could explain the continued Arab contacts with Dr. Jarring…None of the Arabs, at this writing, had packed their bags and gone home,” Mr. Willis said. “Another explanation advanced here is that neither the Arabs nor Russians want to be blamed for torpedoing the Jarring talks…As long as the Jarring efforts continue, there is hope, it is felt, no matter how tenuous.”)