JERUSALEM (Dec. 10)
Israeli officials withheld comment today on Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ Middle speech last night. They said they would have to study the full text of the address before commenting. But its impact here was such that Premier Golda Meir called an extraordinary session of the cabinet for this evening.
An official communique said the meeting was called preliminary to Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s departure for talks in the U.S. and “in view of the latest statement made by the American Secretary of State.” (A detailed report of the Rogers speech appears on Page3.)
Unofficial reaction here indicated shock and dismay. Some sources contended that Mr. Rogers’ statement of America’s Mideast policy proved that the U.S. continuously yielded to Soviet Russia which has never yielded on a single point. They said that step-by-step, the American policy moved closer to the proposals by Moscow.
Israeli circles appeared especially distressed by Mr. Rogers’ reference to points which, in Israel’s view, should be subjects of direct negotiations with the Arabs. They said the U.S. has always maintained that it wants to help bring the two parties together so that they could settle the details of borders and the occupied areas. But now that America has made public its plan for Israeli withdrawal, it appears to be turning away from its previous policy, they said. They viewed Mr. Rogers’ speech as “another retreat” in the American global position vis-a-vis the Russians.
SEE ISRAELI BARGAINING POSITION BEING UNDERMINED IN ADVANCE OF TALKS
Rep. Seymour Halpern, New York Republican, expressed doubts in Washington today that President Nixon subscribed to the pronouncements on a new Mideast policy by Secretary of State Rogers and other State Dept.officials. He said it was “difficult to believe that solemn commitments on a real peace in the Middle East” were being abandoned. The Rogers statement, he said, contained “implications of a possible erosion of the U.S. position” and implications that “the Israeli bargaining position is being undermined prior to any Rhodes-type talks that may be held.
Jacques Torczner, president of the Zionist Organization of America, said that the approach by Secretary of State Rogers in effect barters away legitimate United States interests. He said that “each concession by Israel suggested by the United States in advance of direct negotiations among the involved parties, the Arab states and Israel, can only serve to undermine the security and the position of Israel and entrap the nations of the Middle East deeper in the snares set by the Soviet Union.”
(Replying to questions today in connection with the Rogers speech, State Department spokesman Karl Bartch said that the United States Government would welcome resumption of diplomatic relations with all Arab states. He said, however, that since it was the Arab states which severed diplomatic relations with Washington, it would be “more appropriate for them to come to us.”)