Israelis Dismayed by Jarring Letter to Thant Which Omits Condition for Withdrawal
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Israelis Dismayed by Jarring Letter to Thant Which Omits Condition for Withdrawal

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Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring’s Middle East peace mission has been officially reactivated by Secretary General U Thant. But even as the special UN peace envoy began what Mr. Thant described as the “long, arduous and uncertain” road ahead, Israeli officials expressed dismay over a letter Dr. Jarring submitted to Mr. Thant on Friday stating the basis and objectives of the peace negotiations. The letter, which Mr. Thant made public on Friday at the same time he announced the resumption of the peace mission, stated that Israel, Egypt and Jordan indicated their willingness to carry out the Security Council resolution of Nov. 22, 1967 “in all its parts”; that they will designate representatives to discuss “at such places and time as I (Dr. Jarring) may recommend, taking into account as appropriate each side’s preference as to method of procedure and previous experience between the parties”; and that the purpose of the discussions is to reach agreement on a “just and lasting peace” based on “mutual acknowledgement by the United Arab Republic, Jordan and Israel of each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence, and Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict both in accordance with Resolution 242 (of Nov. 22,1967).”

Israeli officials asked Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin to return from Washington to Jerusalem for urgent consultations following the release of Dr. Jarring’s letter. Israeli officials said the letter contained what appeared to be an act of deliberate omission because it failed to state that Israel’s acceptance of the United States peace plan stressed there would be no withdrawal from occupied Arab territories until a peace treaty embodying “secure, recognized and agreed boundaries” is consummated. Israel officials noted that the wording of Dr. Jarring’s letter was identical with that of U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ letter to Egypt on June 19. At that time, Mr. Rogers proposed a limited cease-fire and an agreed upon statement from Israel, Egypt and Jordan to be submitted to Dr. Jarring which the peace envoy would then be able to submit to Mr. Thant in the form of a report. Officials in Jerusalem noted, however, that the draft by Mr. Rogers did not contain the qualifications inserted in Israel’s letter of acceptance of the U.S. peace plan. Officials in Jerusalem said that without the qualification it is doubtful whether a majority of the Cabinet would have voted for the peace plan even after the secession of Gahal.


A Foreign Ministry spokesman stated Friday night that “Israel’s position has been stated exclusively in the Prime Minister’s statement made in the Knesset on August 5 (that recognized and agreed upon boundaries would be determined in peace agreements). This statement was transmitted on the same day to the United States government and on the following day to Ambassador Jarring. No other definition of Israel’s position has been given any other government or any international body.” Despite Israel’s dismay with Dr. Jarring’s omission, it was understood in Jerusalem that differences on this point are not expected to threaten the forthcoming talks. Meanwhile, Dr. Jarring was reported by Mr. Thant to be “already intensively at work in this new stage of his peace effort.” Referring to the long and arduous steps ahead, he added: “But if only there is a will for peace, all obstacles can he surmounted and peace will be achieved.” The Secretary General asserted that Dr. Jarring “may rely on my unfailing support and he certainly merits the support of all governments and peoples in the world who believe in peace.” Dr. Jarring continued to meet over the weekend with Israel, Egyptian and Jordanian diplomats on procedures of the cease-fire which is to continue through November 5. Yosef Tekoah, the Israeli Ambassador, said after emerging from his conference with Dr. Jarring on Friday: “Everything is still open as of this hour. This is a preliminary phase of talks on procedures.”

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