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Eban Resumes Diplomatic Contacts, but Peace Prospects Seen Dim

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Against the bleak backdrop of aggravated Middle East tensions, Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban resumes his diplomatic rounds this week including talks tomorrow with UN peace envoy Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring. Mr. Eban arrived Saturday with a formula, confirmed by the Cabinet for further talks with Dr. Jarring. Details were withheld. The Cabinet voted its confidence in the nine-point peace program Mr. Eban delivered recently to the General Assembly, over the opposition of two ministers of Gahal (the Herut-Liberal alignment). Menahem Beigin and Joseph Saphir. They contended that he exceeded his mandate in telling the Assembly that Israel would be willing to discuss some substantive measures with the Arabs through Dr. Jarring without insisting on direct talks from the start.

The proposal reportedly gives Mr. Eban some room for maneuver to help keep the Jarring mission alive but does not give him authority to discuss such issues with Dr. Jarring as frontiers or withdrawals from occupied territory. The latter item, it was indicated, can be discussed only after the Arab countries declare that the aim of further talks is to be an effort to achieve a just and lasting peace as proposed in the November 1967 Council resolution giving Dr. Jarring his mandate. It has been reliably reported that the Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers asked Mr. Eban through Dr. Jarring whether Israel was willing to “implement” the Council resolution without both sides having reached prior agreement. The Arab diplomats also reportedly submitted questions on the boundaries Israel wants. Mr. Eban was not asked or empowered to answer such questions for the time being. At the end of the session, the Cabinet released a formal statement reaffirming the Knesset (Parliament) position that there would be no withdrawal from the cease-fire lines until a peace treaty was signed with a neighboring Arab state.

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