JERUSALEM (Oct. 21)
Well informed sources here believe that the United States has written off chances of a Middle East peace settlement in the near future and now aspires only to a cease-fire as “the next best thing.” According to the sources, the U.S. realizes that a cease-fire cannot be maintained indefinitely without concurrent political discussions about a final settlement and may therefore try to persuade Israel to enter into such discussions without Egyptian cease-fire violations being corrected. The sources point out that there are several levels on which political discussions could be carried out–the United Nations General Assembly, the Security Council, the Four Powers, the Two Powers and the peace mission under Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring. The latter is the most convenient instrument from the U.S. and Israeli points of view. The American reasoning is that the Jarring talks can drag on and “as long as there is no shooting war, we can live with it and so can Israel.” the sources said.
However, Israel has committed itself not to return to the Jarring talks until there is a restoration of the cease-fire status quo ante of Aug. 7, and the U.S., which has been demanding rectification by Egypt and the Soviet Union, Is in no position to force Israel to change its stand. The sources say that the Israel government is fully aware that there is a wide gap between what the Americans mean by “rectification” and Israel’s demand for “restoration” of the pre-Aug. 7 military situation in the canal zone. The Israelis also fear that the U.S. may reduce the scope of its demand for rectification and thereby face Israel with a new and difficult situation for its government to solve. According to one source, “When the Americans say to us ‘you are 100 percent right in your demand for rectification,’ somehow we feel that at the back of their mind there hovers the question, ‘but what percentage will you settle for.'”