UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Nov. 11)
Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban said today that Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad “squandered in cold blood” an opportunity to pursue Middle East peace at the United Nations headquarters by returning to Cairo at this time. Mr. Eban told a press conference that Mr. Riad’s departure constituted at this time Egypt’s reply to Israeli efforts to maintain a dialogue with Israel through UN Middle East envoy Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring. But he refused to concede that the Jarring mission is dead, taking heart, he said, from Secretary-General U Thant’s announcement following the departure of Mr. Riad and Jordanian Foreign Minister Abdel Moneim Rifai for Amman that the two Arab diplomats “will be available to Ambassador Jarring either at UN headquarters or elsewhere whenever he has something new to report and to discuss with them.” Mr. Eban announced that he was returning to Israel within 24 hours.
Mr. Eban said that continuation of the Jarring mission was important to the future of the UN as well as to one parties to the Middle East conflict, adding that he hopes Mr. Thant will treat it as a matter of ‘urgency. He refused to equate the lack of success of the Jarring mediation with failure, noting that the Vietnam negotiations in Paris continued in a ‘desperate condition.” The key to success, he said, was “patience, perseverance and renewal after each disappointment.”
Mr. Eban said there had been no substantive departure from Egyptian adherence to its Khartoum formula of no peace, no recognition and no negotiations with Israel, adding that peace cannot be made of such “unpromising material.” This situation, he noted, was unlike the ability of the ancient Hebrews in Egypt to make bricks without straw.
He recalled that Israel had formulated what It regards as basic Issues and invited an Egyptian response to seven central questions: What is Cairo’s definition of a “just and lasting peace?” Does Egypt agree that the term “secure and recognized boundaries” denotes a concept different from the previous armistice lines? Does Cairo accept the need for agreement with Israel on the principles cited in the Nov. 22, 1967 Security Council peace resolution? Would Cairo Join in working out arrangements to provide security against the kind of ‘vulnerable situation” that caused a peace breakdown In June, 1967? What is the reaction to the refugee proposal contained in Mr. Eban’s Oct. 8 General Assembly speech? What would be Cairo’s policy and action regarding passage of Israeli flagships through the Suez Canal when it is opened? Does Cairo agree with Israel’s interpretation of the implications and consequences of ending belligerency and acknowledging Israel’s sovereignty?
Mr. Riad’s failure to stay and discuss these details was seen by Mr. Eban as a “refusal to live in peace.” But, he said, Israel will not break off the talks and will talk “at any level, any time and any place” whether or not there have been any changes in the Arab position. A substantive reply from Egypt to Israel’s questions would have enabled Jerusalem to make progress in formulating its views and proposals, he said.
Mr. Eban said that Israel has not been approached on the question of moving the Jarring mission to another site. Geneva has been frequently mentioned. The Jarring mandate expires Nov. 30. The Foreign Minister says he has no reason to believe that Dr. Jarring will terminate it at that time. He said Jordanian Foreign Minister Rifai would not have returned home if Mr. Riad had not done so. The Foreign Minister frequently reiterated Israel’s insistence that a peace pact must be based upon agreement by the contending parties and that an imposed peace from the outside would be unacceptable.