JERUSALEM (Nov. 3)
There is little optimism here about the prospects for peace talks with the Arabs, informed sources said today. Escalation of hostilities at the Suez Canal and a new tough tone taken by Egyptian diplomats in private talks with Western statesmen contribute to this mood. The Egyptians said that new and more violent attacks than the Oct. 26 artillery barrage at the canal would take place — a view echoed by the authoritative Cairo newspaper Al Ahram which warned that Egypt could retaliate for Israel’s Thursday commando strike into Egypt. There is little expectation that Egypt will reply in the affirmative to Israel’s question through Dr. Jarring about whether it was willing to start talks aimed at a peace treaty. Cairo’s new tough line was reportedly mentioned in an exchange of letters last week between Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and President Johnson.
Adding to tensions were reports from the U.S. Sixth Fleet that the Soviet Navy had moved dredges and machinery into Egyptian ports and speculation that the Kremlin would try to force a reopening of the canal, closed since the Six-Day War. Russia is said to be uncertain about possible United States reaction, diplomatic sources said.
(Pessimism also prevailed among Western circles at the UN. One source said that Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad told a Western diplomat last week that the “Jarring mission is dead but not yet buried.” Queried about this statement an Israeli diplomat said, “We have not given up hope. We have not said it is dead. But there is not much hope. There was some slight hope last week, but there is less now following Egypt’s hardened attitude.” Mr. Eban will confer with Dr. Jarring tomorrow and is expected to “react” to a note given to Dr. Jarring by Mr. Riad recently. The Egyptian note followed presentation of Israel’s position by Mr. Eban in a note to Dr. Jarring.)