JERUSALEM (Jul. 14)
Israeli officials are relaxing somewhat, apparently convinced that the Nixon Administration is determined to take a tougher stand against growing Soviet involvement in the Middle East, at least for the time being. The guarded optimism expressed here today stemmed from analyses of remarks made by Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco on a television news interview program Sunday. Mr. Sisco told newsmen to take “at face value” President Richard M. Nixon’s statement of July 1 that the U.S. will maintain Israel’s deterrent military strength as a matter of its own self interest in the Mideast. According to Israeli observers of the American scene, the new, firm line emanating from Washington indicates that President Nixon is in command of U.S. foreign policy and that the State Department has been relatively down-graded. As Israelis see it, there has always been a tug-of-war between pro-Israel elements in the White House and the Arabists in the State Department. The latter are described as middle echelon career diplomats who are said to exercise considerable influence on their superiors who come and go with changing administrations. Some Israeli quarters have expressed satisfaction with indications that President Nixon’s chief foreign policy adviser, Dr. Henry Kissinger seems to be influencing Mideast policy more than Secretary of State William P. Rogers. Israelis were not happy with the Mideast peace proposals announced by Mr. Rogers on June 26, especially the first phase which reportedly called for a Suez cease-fire with a 90-day limit.
Analysts here agree nevertheless that Secretary Rogers’ new peace initiative is the major objective of U.S. diplomacy. They say the tough talk to the Russians is intended to allay Israeli fears and to make Jerusalem more amenable to parts of the Rogers plan. They say that the U.S. is following a “carrot-and-stick” policy toward Israel. So far the stick has not been used, but the carrot is there in the promise of more jets and other military and economic aid. (Sen. High Scott, of Pennsylvania, the Republican Minority Leader, said over the week-end that he “wouldn’t be surprised to see some developments before too long which would be reassuring to Israel in regard to making jets available–particularly replacement planes.” Newsweek magazine reports this week that President Nixon has already ordered additional Phantoms sent to Israel to replace combat losses. Sen. Scott said that he and Sen. Jacob K. Javits of New York, a ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, would meet today with other senators who have publicly urged President Nixon to sell Israel an additional 25 Phantoms and 100 Skyhawk jets. The purpose of the meeting, he said, would be to decide whether to send another public letter to the White House like the one signed by 74 senators last month. Mr. Scott added that a second letter “might not be necessary.” According to reports in Washington, the U.S. has still been unable to get a satisfactory reply from Moscow as to its intentions in the Middle East.)