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Egypt Accepts U.S. Mideast Initiative but Contingent on Discontinuing Aid to Israel

Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced today in a speech heavily publicized in advance that Egypt “accepted” the United States Initiative for peace in the Middle East, but he downgraded the peace plan by saying it contained “nothing new” and that it was just a “procedural plan.” Col. Nasser warned however, that his acceptance of the U.S. peace initiative was contingent on America’s willingness to discontinue further military aid to Israel. “While we inform the United States that we have accepted its proposals.” President Nasser declared, “we also tell them that our real belief is that whatever is taken by force cannot be returned except by force… We will wait and see what happens after we have accepted the American proposals, but if the United States continues to supply Israel with more weapons, the situation will be very serious.” Col. Nasser, speaking before the Arab Socialist Union in Cairo on the occasion of the 18th anniversary of his accession to power, emphasized that Egypt “cannot expect it (the U.S. peace initiative) to achieve any results, because of Israel’s foolishness.” His speech was carried on Egyptian radio and television. The Egyptian leader stressed that “If the political solution fails, war will be the only alternative.” Israel’s “essential” withdrawal, he said, has to include the Golan Heights, the Sinai, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Israel has indicated a willingness to make concessions on territory, but not in regard to the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.

President Nasser offered special praise to the Soviet Union, disclosing that she has promised to supply Egypt with offensive and defensive weapons. He condemned U.S. military aid to Israel, and lauded the Egyptian Armed Forces for having “astonished our friends as well as our enemies.” Egypt, he said, is “now fighting a battle of special importance against Israeli air superiority, made possible through the help of the United States. The enemy wanted to have our skies open before his Air Force. The enemy is launching daily raids along the canal–between 20 and 150 raids every day, on certain days dropping about 1,000 tons of bombs or what is worth one million pounds sterling ($2.4 million). Their emphasis has been on the air defense forces and their objective was to prevent them from playing their role. But they could not, and have recently admitted that the number of air defense batteries along the canal is increasing and not the opposite.” Col. Nasser added that “The Phantoms began falling on our land, and their pilots began falling into our hands.”

EGYPT WILLING TO ACCEPT TEMPORARY CEASE-FIRE CONCURRENT WITH INFORMAL ARAB-ISRAELI TALKS

President Nasser said that Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad told the American representative in Cairo, Donald C. Bergus, yesterday that all the points made in the U.S. proposal were incorporated in the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution. But, Col. Nasser said, Mr. Riad “also told him that we approve of the American proposals.” Col. Nasser, in his speech, disclosed that Mr. Riad’s statement to Mr. Bergus indicated that Egypt was willing to accept a temporary cease-fire along the Suez Canal concurrent with informal talks under the auspices of special United Nations envoy Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring. But Egypt also insisted that Israel withdraw from “all occupied territories.” Israel has rejected that idea as inconsistent with the UN resolution, which calls for withdrawal from “territories occupied” during the Six-Day War. The American initiative uses the phraseology of the resolution, omitting the word “all.” Pres. Nasser also announced: “He (Mr. Riad) told him (Mr. Rogers, via Mr. Bergus) that we agree to enforce the Security Council resolution and that withdrawal from all Arab territories and the safeguarding of the Palestinian peoples’ rights were essential. He also told him that they (the U.S.) said Israel wants peace and that we want war and the extermination of the Jews. He told him that the true picture is that Egypt has agreed to the Security Council’s resolution since 1967 and that Israel did not.” The “extermination” remark was apparently a reference to President Nixon’s allegation July 1 that Israel sought peace but that the Arabs “want to drive Israel into the sea.” Col. Nasser said the U.S. “has not helped” in assuring the enforcement of the UN resolution.

EBAN: WITHDRAWAL, YES. BUT NOT FROM ALL TERRITORIES; RABIN DUE TO RETURN TO ISRAEL

(In Tel Aviv, prior to Col. Nasser’s speech, Foreign Minister Abba Eban said Israel would be waiting to hear if Egypt is ready to accept a lasting peace with negotiated, secure borders under the terms of the UN resolution, i.e., with withdrawal from “territories” but not from “all territories.” Opposition to these requirements, he said, were complexes that Egypt had to overcome if peace is to come. Egypt, he said, has to revoke her opposition to the UN cease-fire resolution of June, 1967, and take a more positive approach to negotiations. The Foreign Minister restated Israel’s opposition to a temporary cease-fire as “a period of hectic preparations (by Egypt) for the renewal of war.” Mr. Eban said he was confident that the U.S. will not abandon Israel and let it become militarily inferior to the Arab states, referring to President Nixon’s repeated assurances of maintaining the balance of power.) (In Moscow, the official Communist Party newspaper, Pravda, said the Nasser reply meant Egypt was willing, for the first time, to recognize Israeli independence. That would indicate that Cairo is willing to make concessions on the nature of a Palestinian state.) (In Washington, the administration was said to consider the Egyptian response “positive” but not without uncertainties. Officials said Washington would confer with Israel, Jordan and the Soviet Union on the Egyptian reply, in the hope of formulating an arrangement whereby Israel would drop her resistance to a temporary cease-fire. The Israeli ambassador in Washington, Yitzhak Rabin, was expected to return to Tel Aviv this weekend.)

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