JERUSALEM (Sep. 8)
Israel demanded today that any package deal negotiated with the Arab hijackers for release of the 300 airline passengers held captive in Jordan must include every one of the hostages without regard to their nationalities or religion. The demand emerged from a meeting of Cabinet ministers in Premier Golda Meir’s office. Israel, in effect. is insisting that the other countries whose nationals are among the hostages–United States. Britain, West Germany and Switzerland–make no separate agreements with the hijackers but negotiate jointly with Israel. Israel has made it clear that it will have no contact with the terrorists. But today’s decision by the Cabinet ministers seemed to hint that Israel might be willing to contribute toward a package deal. There are some 2000 convicted Arab terrorists serving sentences in Israeli jails in addition to Egyptian and Syrian prisoners of war and two high ranking Algerian nationals interned last month after they were removed from a British airliner in transit at Lydda Airport. There has been no official confirmation here that 50 Israelis are among the hostages being held in Jordan.
Observers here said it was unlikely that the terrorists would agree to exchange any of the Israeli hostages. They pointed out that guerrillas still hold Shmuel Rosenwasser. a night watchman they kidnapped from Metullah nine months ago. Foreign Minister Eban today sharply rejected any parallel between the two Algerians held in Israel and the hijacked airline passengers. Addressing the Jerusalem Economic Club, Mr. Eban noted that “the two Algerians landed in Israel on board a scheduled aircraft. They were not brought here by force but turned out after investigation to be senior officers in the secret service of a country at war with Israel.” (In New York, a United Nations spokesman said that Secretary General U Thant is “in continuous touch” with the Israeli Mission to the UN regarding the two Algerian officials who were taken from the BOAC plane at Lydda Airport three weeks ago by Israeli authorities and detained for questioning. A spokesman for the Israeli Mission confirmed that Mr. Thant was in contact but declined to elaborate further.)
ISRAELIS CONTRAST RESISTANCE BY EL AL PERSONNEL WITH SUBMISSION OF OTHER AIRLINERS
Israel holds the Jordanian government fully responsible for the safety of the hostages. The Foreign Ministry announced today that Israel has made diplomatic representations to several governments urging them to put pressure on Jordanian authorities to honor their international obligations. But Israeli officials concede privately that the Jordanian government is powerless to intercede even if it wanted to. King Hussein’s authority. shaky even in his own capital, does not extend to the Mafraq area where the hijacked planes were forced to land on a terrorist-controlled airstrip. Israelis were infuriated by reports yesterday that the governments of Switzerland and West Germany were ready to surrender to terrorist demands for the release of Arab prisoners held by them in return for their own nationals. The public was not mollified by later reports that the two countries decided not to make a deal with the terrorists pending diplomatic efforts to free the hostages. The Swiss Embassy in Tel Aviv and the Swiss Ambassador’s residence in Ramat Gan received anonymous bomb threats today. Police rushed to the scene found nothing.
Israelis are contrasting the resistance that foiled an attempt to hijack an El Al airliner over Britain on Sunday with the submission of the two hijacked American planes and the Swiss airliner. Israelis say that this situation would not have occurred if other governments and airlines employed security measures similar to those that saved the El Al plane. The El Al hijack attempt was foiled when security guards on the plane shot and killed one of the hijackers and wounded his female companion. An Israeli steward was wounded in the scuffle. But Capt. Url Barlev who was piloting the El Al 707 jet when the hijack attempt was made refused to say who shot the hijackers. “If we are in Tel Aviv today and not in Amman or Damascus, it is thanks to the entire crew. All of them acted marvelously.” Capt. Barlev said. He said no crew member carried arms. He made no reply when asked by newsmen about the two armed security guards on his flight. Capt. Barlev said the hijack attempt occurred 21 minutes after his plane took off from Amsterdam on a flight to New York, when it was about 13 nautical miles from the British coast. A stewardess, Jeanette Darmagene, said the two hijackers shot the steward when the pilot refused their demand to open the door to his compartment.