Cabinet Said to Be Divided on U.S. Relations, Jarring Questionnaire

Important differences emerged at today’s cabinet meeting over two major questions that must be decided in the near future–Israel’s relations with the United States in light of the forthcoming Four Power Mideast talks and Israel’s reply to the 12-point questionnaire submitted to it and to the Arab states by UN envoy Jarring. Consideration of both problems was adjourned until the next cabinet session Sunday. It was learned reliably, however, that some ministers advocated that Israel dissociate itself from the American peace proposals to be proposed at the Big Power meetings and some want Israel to refrain from replying to Dr. Jarring’s questionnaire.

Mr. Eban gave a detailed report of his talks in Washington recently with President Richard M. Nixon and Secretary of State Rogers. The general evaluation, it was learned, was that no crisis was anticipated in Israel-U.S. relations and that, most important, the U.S. would not demand withdrawal before an agreement was reached and signed by the Arabs.

Ministers troubled by reports of U.S. proposals that they think would be inimical to Israel’s interests want the government to declare that any peace plan based on them would not be recognized by Israel and would not be binding on it. Others argued that the American plan was flexible and that contacts with the U.S. should be continued.

The Jarring questionnaire asked, among other things, that each side state its attitude toward the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution and its implementation and wanted to know how Israel defined “secure borders” and “freedom of navigation.” Some ministers contended that replies to these and other questions might be interpreted as binding on Israel and would be difficult to retreat from later. Mr. Eban said that unless replies were given, Dr. Jarring’s mission would be emptied of its contents and that Israel was interested in its continuation. He said further that Dr. Jarring might find a “common denominator” in the replies given by Israel and the Arab states that would give him a basis for further action.

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