NEW YORK (Dec. 21)
The United States has reportedly made “concrete and specific” proposals concerning Israel’s future borders with Jordan. New York Times correspondent Henry Tanner said today that the proposals were presented by Ambassador Charles W. Yost, the American envoy to the United Nations, at last Thursday’s meeting of the Big Four (U.S., Soviet Union, Britain and France) on the Middle East conflict. Mr. Tanner attributed his information to “informed sources” at the UN.
According to the Times report, the U.S. proposals favor border adjustments that would transfer limited areas from the sovereignty of one country to another. They are also said to include recommendations on the refugee issue and Jerusalem.
They reportedly differ from the American proposals on Israel’s future frontier with Egypt which Secretary of State Rogers made public in a speech Dec. 9. Mr. Rogers suggested a return to the pre-June, 1967 war boundaries. But the U.S. is understood to recognize Israeli security interests in the Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip and proposes to protect them by the establishment of demilitarized zones and a possible international peace-keeping force, Mr. Tanner reported.
He said the new American proposals left the status of Jerusalem open for negotiation between Israel and Jordan. The proposal is understood to reiterate Mr. Rogers’ Dec. 9 statement that Jerusalem must remain a unified city in which both Israel and Jordan would have religious, economic and civic roles.
According to the correspondent, the new U.S. initiative was linked to the Arab summit conference which opened today at Rabat, Morocco. American officials hope to deter the Arabs from foreclosing a diplomatic solution in the Mideast by demonstrating that progress is still possible on the diplomatic front, Mr. Tanner said.
The UN correspondent outlined the differences between the U.S. and Soviet positions which, he said, have been defined by high ranking Western diplomats familiar with them. The differences appear to be more a matter of degree then substance.
The Soviets want an Israeli withdrawal to the pre-June, 1967 lines in exchange for a “weak” peace commitment by the Arabs. The U.S. supports withdrawal in principle but favors minor border adjustments and demands a stronger peace commitment in which the obligations of both parties would be spelled out including, for the Arabs, the obligation to prevent further guerrilla attacks on Israel, Mr. Tanner said.
The Soviet Union wants the Four Powers to work out a detailed settlement which would be presented to the Arabs and Israelis to implement. The U.S. favors no more than a Big Power agreement on a framework with essential details to be worked out by the Arabs and Israelis in further negotiations. The Soviets want the Big Powers to concern themselves with the Israeli-Syrian aspects of the dispute, but the U.S. specifically excludes Syria from the discussions because the latter has rejected all efforts towards a peaceful solution, Mr. Tanner reported. He said that a French proposal leaning heavily toward the Soviet position was rejected out of hand by the Israelis prior to being introduced at the Big Four talks.