WASHINGTON (Jun. 24)
The new American peace initiative in the Middle East appears to be nearing a climax with a public announcement tomorrow of its outlines by Secretary of State William P. Rogers. The American diplomat is expected to announce also the decision on the sale of jets to Israel at a press conference here in the morning before leaving on a two week trip to Asia at the end of the week. Informed sources here say the plan has been circulated in detail to Israel and the Arab states as well as to the Soviet Union, Britain and France. The plan is believed to adhere closely to the terms of the United Nations Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 Mideast resolution and to call for the revival of the peace-seeking mission of the UN’s special envoy. Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring. Reports reaching here indicate that Israeli officials are unhappy with the course the American initiative seems to be following and are alarmed by indications that the Nixon administration’s decision on the sale of more combat jets to Israel will be conditional on its acceptance of the plan. Reports from Arab capitals stress military mobilization for a new full scale war with Israel but at the same time a willingness to “listen” to the American proposals. Lebanese sources have described the plan as “a little better” than previous proposals. But Palestinian guerrilla leaders are said to be deeply concerned that any moves toward a political settlement of the Mideast conflict would undermine their position and frustrate their aspirations.
Reports here say that the Soviet Union, by tacit agreement, has put a brake on the escalation of its military involvement in Egypt. Soviet-piloted jets have refrained from interfering with Israel’s almost daily bombardment of Egyptian positions in the Suez Canal zone. Soviet SAM-3 anti-aircraft missile sites have been deployed extensively deep inside Egypt but there is no evidence that they have been extended to the canal zone. The Israelis for their part have confined their air attacks to the canal zone and a narrow corridor just west of it. The United States has so far withheld the sale of more Phantom and Skyhawk jets requested by Israel. According to sources here, the Nixon administration has been exerting pressure on Israel to take certain steps that would break the present Mideast deadlock. The Nov, 22, 1967 resolution calls for Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories in return for Arab recognition of Israel’s right to sovereign existence within secure borders. The sources say the administration understands the Arab refusal to recognize and negotiate with Israel while its forces occupy Arab lands and the problem of Arab refugees remains unsolved. In effect, Israel is being asked to commit itself to a substantive step in return for Arab commitments for which there can be no absolute guarantee, although the U.S. stands committed to support Israel’s continued existence.
U.S. ON TIGHTROPS: SEEKS TO SATISFY ISRAEL, SOVIET UNION, ARAB STATES AND GUERRILLAS
(According to Christian Science Monitor’s Washington correspondent Saville R. Davis, “The American initiative seems to be headed toward arrangements that would be largely private, with only part of the iceberg appearing above the surface. They would balance undertakings between the big powers and between them and the leaders of both sides in the Middle East, which would be hammered out in secrecy at first, and then put through the face-saving process of negotiations under the auspices of Mr. Jarring. Only the ultimate results would be made public.” Mr. Davis believes that both the U.S. and the Soviet Union are aware of the dangers of a Big Power confrontation in the Mideast and are seeking to avoid it by holding their respective forces in leash. Both sides want to see a restoration of the cease-fire that could eventually lead to an agreement between the two to limit arms supplies to their respective clients. Mr. Davis said.) (The London Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Walter Schwartz reported today that the Israelis apparently know most of the contents of the new American “package deal” and don’t like it. Total silence has been imposed on officials in Jerusalem “but it seems clear that diplomatic hatches are being battened down for the third crisis in relations with Washington in six months,” Mr. Schwartz reported. He said Israelis expect the crisis to be as severe as that which followed Secretary of State Rogers’ announcement of his Mideast program last December. But the mood is not desperate. “In the long run it is felt that Israel will be able to appeal to the American public over the heads of Nixon and Rogers,” the Guardian correspondent said.)
Washington Post correspondent Jesse W. Lewis Jr. reported from Beirut today that Palestinian guerrilla groups fear they are being ignored by the new peace moves and are preparing to oppose them. The fragmented guerrilla movement has coalesced somewhat since the fighting in Jordan two weeks ago between King Hussein’s troops and the Palestinians. From their point of view, the new peace moves are aimed at dividing them. They fear a “sell out” from the recent meeting of Arab leaders in Tripoli, Libya, citing statements which seemed to distinguish between “genuine” and “extreme” guerrillas. The latter designation has been applied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine headed by Marxist Dr. George Habbash. Mr. Lewis quoted a spokesman for the Front as saying, “If Nasser makes peace with Israel he will be gambling with his own existence, his regime, his person, his place in history.” (Christian Science Monitor correspondent John K, Cooley reported from Beirut today that the Tripoli meeting was concerned with strengthening the Arabs’ eastern front against Israel and its coordination with Egypt’s strategy on the Suez Canal line. But the new American peace proposals which have at least some support from the other Big Powers were very much in the air, Mr. Cooley said. “Their attractiveness to Arab capitals would be enhanced if they did not include announcement of any new U.S. warplane deliveries to Israel and if the Soviet Union and France, sympathetic to the Arab position, were associated with the new initiative.” Mr. Cooley wrote.) According to Washington reports, Secretary Rogers’ expected announcement on the jet sales to Israel will be couched in terms least likely to touch off anti-American demonstrations in the Arab world.