JERUSALEM (Jun. 15)
Israeli officials believe that the Big Four talks on the Middle East will continue despite the apparent failure of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A. Gromyko to persuade President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt to accept a reported compromise plan. Mr. Gromyko, who made a surprise visit to Cairo last week, spent three days in consultations with President Nasser and other Egyptian officials. According to various reports, his purpose was to test Egyptian reaction to proposals made by the United States.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad said Mr. Gromyko brought five separate proposals, one from each of the powers participating in the talks and the fifth from a committee of Big Four deputies working group formed during the meetings of the Big Four ambassadors to the United Nations. Some sources said Mr. Gromyko sought President Nasser’s approval of a highly general interim statement to be issued by the U.S., Russia, Britain and France before they recess their talks for the summer.
A joint communique made public after Mr. Gromyko left Cairo on Friday declared that a settlement of the Middle East conflict would require adherence to “all parts and provisions” of the Security Council’s Nov. 22,1967 Mideast resolution. But the Gromyko-Nasser communique referred specifically only to the resolution’s call for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied during the June, 1967 Six-Day War.
In the communique, the Soviet Union reiterated “full support” for Egypt and the other Arab governments involved in the dispute. It maintained that despite demands from some Arabs for a new war against Israel, Cairo continued to support the search for a peaceful settlement through the UN resolution and favored international endeavors to bring it about.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Abba Eban denounced the Gromyko-Nasser communique as a “deplorable document” that contained “hostility in every line” and was “a new blow to peace.” He said the policies proclaimed by the conferees were the same ones that were emphatically rejected by the UN General Assembly when presented there on June 13,1967. Mr. Eban said the document proved that Egypt and Soviet Russia were responsible for immobility and rigidity” which have “blocked all efforts to turn away from the tensions and rancors of the past toward a peaceful future.” Mr. Eban said Israel held firmly to its position calling for free negotiations without prior conditions on all matters at issue. He said there was “no international authority for the proposal to restore the position and lines of June 4, 1967” the day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War. “Israel,” he said, “will never agree to put herself again in that position of peril and vulnerability.”
(Diplomatic sources abroad said the U.S. proposal carried to Cairo by Mr. Gromyko called for the creation of “a mood of settlement” by the signing of a contractual agreement which would be followed by Israel’s withdrawal to mutually agreed borders and a solution of the Palestine refugee problem with U.S. assistance. According to these sources, the U.S. viewed its proposals going a long way toward Israel’s demand for a negotiated agreement while allowing the Arabs to save face by not requiring them to enter into direct talks with the Israelis.
(Sources in Washington said that the U.S. envisioned only minor rectifications of the borders that existed prior to the 1967 war which would provide Israel with secure boundaries but would not “reflect the weight of conquest.” The U.S. proposal which President Nasser reportedly rejected would have had Israel withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank but would leave the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem open to future negotiation. State Department officials disclosed in Washington on Friday that the U.S. presented “some concrete ideas” on the Mideast to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin on May 26. It was presumably these that Mr. Gromyko conveyed to Cairo.) Israeli officials said today that the Gromyko-Nasser communique made it clear that Soviet Mideast policy is in effect dictated by President Nasser, not the other way around.