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Abba Eban Feels Nixon’s Message May Signify Reappraisal of Us Mideast Policy

Foreign Minister Abba Eban said on television last night that President Richard M. Nixon’s message of assurance to the American-Jewish leadership conference in Washington Sunday could indicate a re-appraisal by the U.S. of its recent unrewarding diplomatic moves in the Middle East. Mr. Eban said that those moves had not advanced the Soviet Union an inch toward the American position and elicited no positive responses from the Arabs. He said the U.S. was therefore possibly awaiting a new diplomatic move by the Soviets. The Foreign Minister said that the Nixon message re-affirmed the principles discussed last September with Premier Golda Meir when she visited Washington, and while this is of important political significance, it does not mean that all matters between Israel and the U.S. have been settled.

Assessments of the Nixon message continued to fill the columns of Israeli newspapers today. They were somewhat less enthusiastic than the initial official and unofficial reactions of Sunday and Monday when some newspapers indicated the belief that the President had reversed the policies of his own Secretary of State. The newspapers Davar, Lamerkhav and Omer agreed today that Mr. Nixon did not repudiate the Middle East statements of Secretary of State William P, Rogers which are still the valid expression of American policy. The concensus was that the practical results of the Nixon message have to be awaited before it could be assessed realistically. The English-language Jerusalem Post which sometimes reflects Government views, called the Nixon message “a welcome reassurance of continued American support for a negotiated peace.” The Rumanian-language daily, Viata Noastra, and the mass circulation evening paper, Yediot Ahronot seemed most impressed by the role of American-Jewish organizations in extracting the message from Mr. Nixon. The papers said that hitherto it was thought that American-Jewish leaders had leverage only with Democratic administrations.

NIXON’S AND ROGERS’ STATEMENTS ARE COMPATIBLE; NIXON ADDED NOTHING NEW

Editorial comment by leading American newspapers today reflected the view stated by White House spokesmen yesterday that Mr. Nixon had merely re-affirmed existing American policy in his message to the Jewish leaders. The Washington Post said editorially, “American policy is unchanged. The United States remains a friend of Israel, and the United States remains hopeful of facilitating a settlement acceptable to Arabs and Israelis alike.” The New York Times said editorially the Nixon message to Jewish leaders and Secretary William P. Rogers’ Dec. 9 Mideast statement “are perfectly compatible with each other and with the position taken by the previous Administration following the 1967 Arab-Israel war.” It urged Israelis and their supporters to “recognize, as Washington has done, that arms alone cannot assure Israel’s security in the long run.

Times reporter Peter Grose reported from Washington today that “Officials at the State Department were heartened, if a little mystified, at the favorable reaction of Jewish leaders to the President’s statement.” According to Mr. Grose, one American diplomat said he went over the Nixon statement “with a magnifying glass” and found “nothing that hasn’t been said over and over again by the Secretary of State and every other official.”

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