JERUSALEM (Oct. 19)
The Israel government re-affirmed officially today that it will not return to the Jarring peace talks until Egyptian missile violations in the Suez truce zone are rectified. The announcement, issued after today’s cabinet meeting, stated that “Israel will not start shooting as long as the Egyptians do not” after the current 90-day cease-fire expires Nov. 5. Earlier today Israel issued another complaint against Egypt – its 23rd – for violating the cease-fire by advancing more missiles into the restricted zone. (President Anwar Sadat, of Egypt, declared in Cairo today that his government is prepared to agree to one extension of the cease-fire, provided that the Mideast peace talks resume under the auspices of United Nations envoy Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring. In a television interview in New York yesterday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad rejected as much as a “token” withdrawal of missiles from the truce zone.) (Premier Golda Meir arrived in New York last night. She told newsmen at Kennedy Airport that Israel was “prepared for quiet diplomacy” to end the Mideast crisis. She insisted however that Israel would not return to the Jarring talks until the Egyptian government “recreated the situation according to the cease-fire agreement.” She said once that is done, “talks can begin immediately.”)
Today’s cabinet session, presided over by Acting Premier Yigal Allon, heard Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s report on his conversation with Vice President Spiro Agnew in Washington last week and approved Mr. Eban’s return to New York next week to head the Israeli delegation at the General Assembly. A bitter debate on the Mideast is shaping up in the General Assembly next week. In view of the preparations the Egyptian and other Arab delegations in the UN are making to launch an attack against Israel, the cabinet decided that Mr. Eban, rather than visiting Premier Meir, should deliver Israel’s reply. Israel wants to keep the debate on the foreign ministers’ level, the one occasion in Israeli-Arab exchanges where Israel prefers to downgrade the level of contact. Government circles here have been told, presumably by friendly foreign sources, that the Egyptian government is trying to convince the Western powers that its verbal onslaught on Israel at the General Assembly is necessary for internal political reasons. According to these sources, the new Egyptian leadership needs an “alfbi” for an extension of the Suez cease-fire without resumption of the Jarring talks. Otherwise, the Egyptian Army and “extremists” in Cairo would interpret an extension as acquiescence in the status quo along the Suez Canal which would be politically untenable as long as the post-Nasser leadership in Cairo is not firmly entrenched.
EBAN REPORTS ON TALKS WITH AGNEW; FOUND U.S. VICE-PRESIDENT A FIRM FRIEND OF ISRAEL
Israeli circles say that if this reasoning is to be accepted it is useless to expect the Egyptians to forego an acrimonious debate in the General Assembly. The Egyptians also may seek their “alibi” in a new resolution modifying the Security Council’s Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967. Israeli circles say they have not received sufficient information to indicate what kind of resolution the Egyptians are after, though it is believed likely to be one that puts a priority on Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories. Diplomatic observers here say a moderately worded resolution might achieve the necessary two-thirds majority.
Foreign Minister Eban told the Cabinet that Vice President Spiro Agnew had ridiculed Egyptian and Soviet proposals that the General Assembly re-interpret Resolution 242. The Vice President pointed out. Mr. Eban said, that the General Assembly can recommend but only the Security Council can re-interpret its own decisions and the U.S. would not permit this to happen. According to Mr. Eban, Vice President Agnew is a firm friend and well-wisher of Israel. He said that Mr. Agnew, in a way, welcomed the current impasse over the removal of Soviet missiles from the standstill zone because the situation allowed the U.S. to supply Israel with unlimited quantities of arms without the Egyptians or Russians being in a position to protest. The announcement issued after today’s Cabinet meeting stated: “The Israel government’s positions and resolutions concerning the United States peace initiative remain in force. Israel will continue to observe the cease-fire on the basis of reciprocity in accordance with the Security Council’s resolution of June. 1967. Israel is convinced that mutual observance of the cease-fire–encompassing the honoring of all clauses of agreements, including the standstill undertaking in the cease-fire agreement of Aug. 1970–is essential for the holding of talks under the auspices of Ambassador Jarring.