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Israel Seeking Ways to Develop Unified Position on Return to Peace Talks

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The political statement that Premier Golda Meir was to deliver to the Knesset this week was postponed today until next Monday in order to give the government more time to develop a unified position on the question of Israel’s return to the Jarring talks. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said today that barring unforeseen events, Foreign Minister Abba Eban will not cut short his present visit to the United States to return home to participate in the cabinet debate. The spokesman said there was “no rush” about reaching a decision on the Jarring talks and added that the U.S. was not exerting any pressure on Israel and making no demands even though Washington is anxious for the talks to resume. He said the subject would be discussed very thoroughly in the cabinet and at lower levels though it was unlikely that a decision will emerge from next Sunday’s regular cabinet session. In any event, the Knesset will not begin its debate until Mrs. Meir delivers her speech. Mr. Eban is expected home at the end of next week.

Whatever new position may emerge from the cabinet there was no concealing the fact that a rift has developed between Mrs. Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who reportedly advocates Israel’s return to the stalled peace negotiations whether or not Egypt corrects its past truce violations. Remarks to that effect by Gen. Dayan in a speech to the Haifa Engineers Club Saturday reportedly embarrassed Mrs. Meir whose public stand has been that Israel will accept nothing less than complete withdrawal of Egypt’s Soviet-made missiles from the cease-fire zone as a condition for its return to the Jarring talks. A statement was issued on Gen. Dayan’s behalf yesterday claiming that his Haifa remarks were “misinterpreted.” But 45 minutes later, the armed forces radio station, “Galel Zahal” broadcast the full text of the Defense Minister’s speech including the passage in which he specifically called for Israel’s return to the Jarring talks. Political circles here believe the government is edging toward a return to the Jarring talks. This view was supported by reports today that Foreign Minister Abba Eban is negotiating a new formula with the U.S. which would enable Israel to return to the talks without risking too much militarily and without losing face.

Mr. Eban is reportedly insisting on U.S. guarantees that would preclude any future deception on the part of Egypt. His discussions with American officials are said to revolve around the formulation of such conditions. In addition, Mrs. Meir wants a contractual obligation from the U.S. to continue to deliver arms to Israel. At present the arms are being supplied on a day-to-day basis. Deputy Premier Yigal Allon told a convention of immigrants from Morocco today that Israel seeks an ultimate solution of the Middle East problem through peace, not war, and that the Jarring talks offer a road to peace. He said the Arabs “cannot force us into a peace we do not want and we do not want to enforce the kind of peace the Arabs won’t accept.” “Hence our readiness to accept the American initiative in both of its parts–the cease-fire and the Jarring talks,” Mr. Allon said. He added that Israel’s withdrawal from the Jarring talks was not a pretext for their suspension but a response to Egypt’s violations of the cease-fire. He said Israel could not go on with the talks as long as the violations remain uncorrected.

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