Mrs. Meir’s Knesset Address on Rogers’ Peace Plan Expected to Be Non-committal

Premier Golda Meir will deliver a major address in the Knesset tomorrow afternoon on Israel’s view of “the ways to achieve peace” in the Middle East. She will not make any clear cut statement of acceptance or rejection of the new American peace initiative announced last Thursday by Secretary of State William P. Rogers. Mrs. Meir’s equivocal stand on the U.S. proposals was predicted by informed sources here as the Cabinet met throughout the day, presumably to discuss the American approach. It was reportedly briefed by Ambassador. Yitzhak Rabin who was called home from Washington last week to make a personal report. According to the sources, the Israeli government believes that the Rogers’ plan’s chances are remote and to accept or reject it would only create a split in the coalition government. Even a qualified acceptance could lead to the resignation of the Gahal faction while outright rejection would alienate a large segment of opinion in and out of the government that would be willing to consider the American proposals, the sources said. Out of these considerations Mrs. Meir decided, after consultation with Ambassador Rabin and a small circle of senior cabinet ministers, to make an oblique statement tomorrow and to let the Arabs torpedo the Rogers plan if that is to be its fate.

Foreign Minister Abba Eban, one of the leading “doves” in the government, will not be in the Knesset when Mrs. Meir delivers her speech tomorrow. He flies to Luxembourg tonight to sign the preferential trade agreement between Israel and the Common Market countries and will go from there to London for a meeting with Britain’s new Foreign Minister, Sir Alex Douglas-Home. The government meanwhile has released no details of the American proposals which are believed to have been in its hands for more than a week, Mr. Rogers, in announcing that the U.S. has taken a new peace initiative warned that disclosure of the details now “would be counter-productive.” Unofficial sources here told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency yesterday that there was “optimism” over the future course of U.S. Israeli relations. They cited Secretary Rogers’ acknowledgment in his press conference that the Soviet military build-up in the Middle East injected a new factor that made Israel understandably apprehensive. They also welcomed Mr. Rogers’ assurances that American policy toward Israel “remains constant–it does not change.” Disappointment over the Secretary’s failure to announce an American decision on the sale of more combat jets to Israel was tempered in some quarters here with the observation that there was “at least not a rejection.” The feeling is that if the Nixon administration’s decision on the jet sales had been negative, Mr. Rogers would have announced it last Thursday.

NEXT STORY