WASHINGTON (Jan. 1)
A delegation representing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations will meet with Secretary of State Dean Rusk at the State Department tomorrow morning to discuss the worsening Middle East’ situation. The meeting will be held against the background of a unanimous Security Council condemnation yesterday of Israel for its reprisal raid on the Beirut Airport last Saturday might, continued fighting on the Jordanian demarcation line and new attacks from the Lebanese border.
State Department officials meanwhile minimized prospects of a Soviet-proposed “peace plan” for the Middle East, stating that it constituted little more than an American-Soviet dialogue rather than a concrete proposal. The key to the Russian formula is that Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories must take place before other elements of the Security Council Nov. 22, 1967 resolution are to be implemented. The State Department response to reports of a four-power approach to the Middle East deadlock is to refer to the mission of Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, who was given a mandate in the 1967 Council resolution to seek to bring the contending sides together.
Robert J. McCloskey, the State Department spokesman, confirmed that the United States had been in touch with Soviet leaders on the Middle East situation but added that any prospect of Big Power peace moves remained terribly complex at this point.” He said the United States had received a communication from the Soviet Union on Dec. 19 on the Mideast situation and that the United States was drafting a reply, based generally on ideas to advance Dr. Jarring’s mission, scheduled to be resumed in mid-January.
Some officials reportedly saw little hope of achieving a joint accord with the Russians to cool the broiling Mideast. They were understood to feel that the Soviet Union secretly welcomes the Arab provocations and Israeli counter-blows because that situation was believed to undermine United States influence in Arab regimes friendly to the U.S.
Reports persisted nevertheless that some kind of imposed Middle East settlement was being considered by the Big Powers as tensions mounted in the area, Such a view was reported in diplomatic circles in Jerusalem, where it was pointed out that the Soviet Union and France support that approach, while the United States and Britain are wary about it. Israeli leaders have repeatedly indicated that they do not believe an imposed solution could bring peace to the area. Correspondents in Jerusalem who asked for comment on French Foreign Minister Michel Debre’s broadcast proposing that the Big Four work out a settlement were referred to Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s UN General Assembly speech insisting that negotiations between the concerned parties was the only way to achieve peace.