JERUSALEM (Jul. 26)
The United States has told Israel that if she does not accept the Middle East peace plan proposed by Secretary of State William P. Rogers it will make it politically difficult for the U.S. to continue its support for Israel, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned today. At the same time, the U.S. has reiterated its position that it will not support a demand for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories before agreement has been reached on “a just and Iasting peace.” This message, which it is believed came from President Nixon, was conveyed to Premier Golda Meir by U.S. Ambassador Walworth Barbour less than 24 hours after Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser announced Thursday in Cairo that he “accepted” the Rogers plan. The message from Ambassador Barbour to Mrs. Meir cautioned Israel that refusal to accept the U.S. initiative would play into the hands of the Soviet Union and stressed that Israel had nothing to lose by accepting the proposals.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet met here this afternoon but issued no official statement regarding either the U.S. peace initiative or President Nasser’s speech. A government spokesman said “The Cabinet commenced deliberations on the situation which has arisen as a result of the recent statements by the Egyptian and Soviet governments with regard to the United States initiative. The Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister reviewed the political developments.” It was also announced that a political statement which Premier Golda Meir was expected to make in the Knesset tomorrow has been postponed until Tuesday. At the beginning of today’s Cabinet meeting, Mrs. Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban reported on their 90-minute conversation on Friday with Mr. Barbour about President Nixon’s message to Mrs. Meir regarding U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ plan. The initial unofficial response by Israelis toward President Nasser’s “acceptance” was one of skepticism. Many characterized it as a booby trap and trickery. Israel Galili, Minister Without Portfolio, said Egypt’s response was aimed at preventing Israel from acquiring new weapons. Israelis also continued to voice opposition to a limited cease-fire because it would give Egypt and the Soviet Union respite to build up their military sources. The limited 90-day cease-fire proposed by Mr. Rogers and accepted by Pres. Nasser has been countered by Israelis calling for an unlimited unconditional cease-fire. Israelis have also pointed out that Pres. Nasser’s acceptance of the U.S. peace initiative was conditional on Israel’s recognition of the Palestinians, withdrawal from “all” territories, and indirect negotiations between Israel and Egypt.
ISRAELIS SCORE NASSER’S ACCEPTANCE AS BOOBY TRAP, PLAN FOR ISRAEL’S DESTRUCTION
Israelis have pointed out that the proposal for withdrawal in the U.S. plan was based on the withdrawal concept contained in the United Nations Security Council resolution of November 22.1967 which does not call for withdrawal from “all” territories but “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent (June 1967) conflict.” Several Israeli officials focused on that element in Pres. Nasser’s speech which warned that “if the United States continues to supply Israel with more weapons, the situation will be very serious.” Gahal Minister Ghaim Landau observed that Pres. Nasser’s speech indicated his plan to destroy Israel by stages – discontinuing arms deliveries by the U.S., forcing Israel to withdraw then having the Palestinians taking up the battle, and finally. Egypt entering the war in full force backed by the Russians. “It is a trap, and a dangerous one.” Mr. Landau said. In addition, Israelis observed that while Nasser’s speech dealt only with indirect negotiations, Mr. Rogers’ proposal contained a provision for eventual direct talks between Israel and Egypt. In his letter to Egypt on June 19 outlining the U.S. peace proposal. Mr. Rogers wrote: “I understand the problems that direct negotiations pose for you, and we have made it clear from the beginning that we were not proposing such an arrangement to be put into effect at the onset although, depending on the progress of discussions, we believe the parties will find it necessary to meet together at some point if peace is to be established between them…”
Ambassador Barbour’s message to Mrs. Meir, it was learned, stated that he understood Israel’s fear of accepting a limited cease-fire on the Suez Canal because it would enable the Soviets to cram it with missile launching sites to such an extent that it would become impenetrable to Israeli aircraft. But this fear, Mr. Barbour stated in his message, was groundless because the cease-fire was understood by the U.S. to include mutual supervision by absolutely reliable bodies so that no military advantage could be gained by either side. Meanwhile, the JTA learned that the United States has made it clear to the Soviet Union that she will not tolerate a Soviet attempt to have Egyptian units cross the Suez Canal onto the Israeli held bank. Furthermore the United States has given assurances that it will adhere to her policy of maintaining the military balance of power. Israeli ambassadors to Washington. Bonn, Paris, London, and Tokyo together with Mr., Eban, are expected to discuss within the next few days moves in a diplomatic offensive designed to explain Israel’s position which officials privately admit is a difficult one. Minister Shimon Peres was one of several Israeli officials who this weekend expressed the view that Israel is not compelled to offer a hasty reply to the Rogers plan. “Speed does not necessarily have to be the motivating factor in our considerations,” Mr. Peres said.
NASSER HEDGES ACCEPTANCE WITH QUALIFICATIONS AND WARNINGS TO U.S., GREAT BRITAIN
On Friday, apparently in response to pressure from delegates at the Congress of the Arab Socialist Union and to assuage the feelings of Arab leaders and guerrilla organizations, Pres. Nasser hedged