Parties in Mideast Conflict Were Not Shown Jarring Letter Before Thant Released It

The sequence of events leading up to the controversial letter from Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring to Secretary General U Thant on Aug. 7 emerged here today. A United Nations spokesman admitted that none of the three parties–Israel. Egypt and Jordan–was shown the text of the letter in advance although it outlined the basis and objectives of the American peace initiative which, according to U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers, all three had accepted. Israel was deeply disturbed by the Jarring letter because it omitted the key condition of Israel’s acceptance of the American plan. The condition, contained in Israel’s official note of reply to the U.S., was that withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied Arab territories and future boundaries were to be determined by peace agreements. Conditions and reservations in the Egyptian note of acceptance were also omitted from the Jarring letter. Jordan’s reply is believed to have been identical to Egypt’s.

The UN spokesman said that Secretary Rogers came to the UN directly from the San Clemente summer White House on Aug. 3 and met with Mr. Thant, Ambassador Jarring and Undersecretary General Dr. Ralph J. Bunche. On Aug. 5 the Four Powers–U.S., Soviet Russia, Britain and France–met In New York and the U.S. representative. Ambassador Charles Yost, subsequently announced that Israel. Egypt, and Jordan had accepted the U.S. peace plan and that the Big Four welcomed these developments. Two days later, Dr. Jarring submitted his letter to Mr. Thant which the latter circulated to members of the Security Council as the document pertinent to re-activating Ambassador Jarring’s Mideast peace mission suspended more than a year ago. Mr. Thant’s statement to the Security Council on Aug. 7 began with the words, “I have been informed by the government of the United States that the peace proposals initiated by that government has been accepted by the governments of Israel, Jordan and the United Arab Republic…Subsequently Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring has been given confirmation of these acceptances by the permanent representatives to the UN of those three governments.”

The UN spokesman noted today that the Jarring letter contained nothing more or less than the text of Secretary Rogers’ proposals. Asked if the U.S. told Dr. Jarring or Mr. Thant orally or in writing, that the parties had agreed to that text, the spokesman replied, “Yes.” Secretary Rogers came to the UN expressly to let Mr. Thant know that the parties had accepted his proposals and on that basis Ambassador Jarring drafted his letter. According to observers here, Mr. Rogers regarded acceptance of his proposals, as they were submitted to the three parties on June 19, as basic and sufficient to set the cease-fire and peace negotiations in motion. The U.S. in fact made it clear that it would accept any reply from Israel short of an outright rejection, as a clear affirmative. The same observers noted that this understanding cut the ground from any conditions Israel advanced in its text to Washington and the UN on Aug. 4.

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