Israel Softens View of Jarring Letter; No Crisis of Confidence; Rabin Returns to U.S.

Israeli leaders appeared to have second thoughts today about making a major issue of a letter sent by United Nations special envoy Gunnar V. Jarring to UN Secretary General U Thant last week stating the basis and objectives of Arab-Israeli peace negotiations. The text, which Mr. Thant released last Friday, omitted certain conditions stated by Israel in its note of acceptance of the American peace proposals. The omission was deemed sufficiently serious to call Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin home from Washington for urgent consultations. A Cabinet minister told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent today that there was no justification to assume that a “crisis of confidence” was developing between Israel and the United States. Ambassador Rabin, who attended yesterday’s cabinet meeting and had lengthy conferences with Premier Golda Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban, left today to return to Washington. Government spokesman Michael Arnon said the Prime Minister “has come to the conclusion that Ambassador Rabin’s presence is no longer required.” He was originally supposed to have stayed for Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

There were also reports that Mrs. Meir wants to cancel a major political statement announced for delivery to the Knesset on Thursday in which she was expected to reiterate Israel’s demands that its future borders must be “defensible.” Mr. Arnon said. “No cancellation has been made,” but added, “there is a long time between today and Thursday.” The Jarring-Thant letter which stirred the excitement here and apparently chagrined government leaders, repeated the statement drafted by U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers last June 19 which he asked Israel, Egypt and Jordan to subscribe to as the formal basis for re-activating Ambassador Jarring’s peace mission. But it did not contain the basic condition stated by Israel, in its formal note to Washington, for accepting the 90-day cease-fire and other elements of the U.S. peace initiative. That condition was that “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the 1967 conflict to secure and agreed boundaries (are) to be determined in the peace agreements.” Officials here were unclear whether the omission was deliberate, an oversight on the part of Dr. Jarring, or something done at the request of the U.S. State Department. Other, relatively minor conditions inserted in the reply at the request of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, were also omitted.

But Israeli officials noted that President Nixon had informed the government that its reply was satisfactory, notwithstanding the reservations. They said that failure to mention them in the Jarring letter did not mean that they were rejected. The State Department has stressed in its contacts with Israel that Egypt’s reply to the U.S. also contained reservations and conditions which were omitted from the Jarring letter. Well informed sources here told the JTA today that “Such disagreements must be clarified at an early stage or else they would grow in number.” The source added that “It would be premature to draw far-reaching conclusions.” Reports today that Foreign Minister Abba Eban would go to New York this week were not confirmed by the Foreign Ministry. A Ministry spokesman said Mr. Eban had no plans to travel in the near future. The reports gave rise to speculation that he would be Israel’s representative at the peace talks under the auspices of Ambassador Jarring. Mr. Eban said the talks would be on the foreign ministerial level but gave no indication when they would begin or where they would be held.

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