UNITED NATIONS, N.Y. (Oct. 5)
Israel would negotiate with the Arabs without preconditions despite continued violations of the cease-fire, Foreign Minister Abba Eban said here Friday. Although Israel would prefer an international effort to strengthen the cease-fire, he said, this would not be a pre-requisite to the beginning of talks. He indicated that Israel might raise the problem of a cease-fire “improvement” as one of the early and urgent matters for negotiation through UN representative Gunnar V. Jarring.
After going through nearly two-and-one-half weeks of intensive diplomatic consultations accompanying the opening of the General Assembly, Mr. Eban said the Mideast “diplomatic situation is immobile” and that the Arabs and Israelis were not “Very near to a negotiating context.”
But he said that he found “certain ideas on the march” and that “more than previously (there is) the concentration on the central issue. . . negotiation.” He found, in studying the various nations’ foreign policies speeches in the General Assembly, “no tendency to enter into a specific and detailed analysis of the points at issue.” Rather, he discovered a general plea to the Arabs and Israelis — and super-powers — to avoid enlarging the conflict beyond the region.
On the other issues, Mr. Eban said the continued detention by Syria of two Israeli passengers from a hijacked TWA plane is one of the Mideast’s “most urgent matters.” He said that Israel was in constant touch with the U.S. Government, aviation and pilots organizations and Secretary-General U Thant in efforts to try and secure their release.
Asked whether there has been an improvement in Franco-Israeli relations since the departure of former President Charles de Gaulle, Mr. Eban said that there has not been “a sharp and drastic departure from previous policies” but that there has been a “definite revolution in the expression of ideas.”
Reading Foreign Minister Maurice Schumann’s General Assembly speech and comparing it to the French presentation of 1968, Mr. Eban found “the element of acrimony and of criticism is not there. There is no effort to make any definition, negative or otherwise, of Israel’s action of June, 1967. There is no zeal to state emphatically that negotiations are out of the question.”
He also cited but did not describe a “new French formula” recently presented to the Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community (Common Market) and said that Israel would wait to see if the formula “can unfreeze the deadlock which has so far applied to Israel’s request for a certain type of association” with the Market. He also found a reference in Mr. Schumann’s speech to an arms balance or military equilibrium, and said Israel would wait to find out what its significance was.