LONDON (Jan. 6)
Aspects of the Soviet Union’s reported peace plan for the Middle East were disclosed in articles in two authoritative Soviet journals received here today. Diplomatic sources said the Soviet plan does not include an embargo on arms shipments to the Arab states, a policy the United States and Britain have been urging.
An article in International Life, a monthly published in Moscow in English and other languages, proposed stationing of peace-keeping forces on both sides of demilitarized Israel-Arab borders as part of a guarantee of a peace settlement by the United Nations Security Council or the Big Four. The settlement reportedly envisioned by the Russians was one based on the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution which calls for Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territories. As the Russians and Arabs interpret it, withdrawal must be carried out before any other provisions of the resolution become operative. Israel categorically rejected the Soviet plan yesterday. Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the Cabinet it was unacceptable because it would have Israel withdraw without any peace treaty or agreed and secure boundaries.
A report in the London Sunday Observer that the Soviet plan envisaged a limitation of arms shipments to the Middle East was discounted in diplomatic quarters today. They said Russia insists on a free hand to supply arms to the Arabs both as a means of assuring their friendship and as a lever by which the Soviets can exert pressure on the Arab regimes. The sources said that the Russians have slowed down delivery of the latest type of sophisticated offensive weapons to Egypt because their presence might encourage a new war against Israel. These reportedly include delivery of 200 MIG-23s, a supersonic fighter understood to be faster than the American F-4 Phantom jets that are being sold to Israel. On the other hand, latest Western intelligence reports say that Moscow has restored virtually all the arms Egypt and other Arab states lost in the June, 1967 Six-Day War. According to those reports, some of the replacements are more modern and more sophisticated than past materiel supplied and included planes, missiles, radar and naval installations. But some sources said the Russians are afraid to send their latest military hardware to the Arabs lest they fall into Israeli hands, to be later made available for inspection by the United States.
The Soviet weekly, New Times, published in English, hinted at Russia’s desire for Four Power action in the Middle East. The magazine accused Israel of blocking the Nov. 22 resolution and noted that the UN Charter empowered the Security Council to take measures — including the use of force — against a state that refuses to carry out a resolution intended to restore or maintain peace. Any such action by the Security Council would require the consent of the four permanent members — United States, USSR, Britain and France. The article in International Life also criticized Israel for its refusal to permit UN peace-keeping forces to be stationed on its territory after the 1956 Suez campaign. The journal said that the re-establishment of demilitarized zones would have to be on a “strictly mutual basis” and the entire territory of the zones “without exception” would have to be patrolled by UN forces, empowered to carry out periodic inspections on both sides.
Israel has consistently opposed a solution that would be forced on the Middle East by powers outside that region and insists that peace can be achieved only by the parties to the dispute — itself and its Arab neighbors — negotiating a settlement. (Time Magazine in New York published this week an interview with Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban who said that the Soviet Union and the United States could not impose a settlement because “powers outside this region have surprisingly little capacity to make the states here act against what they consider to be their interests.” Mr. Eban said what the Big Powers could achieve was “to force Israel and the Arabs to turn to each other by excluding the possibility of an imposed settlement” and if the disputants finally emerged with a settlement of their own, the Big Powers could support it.)