Israel Softening Stand on Violations As Precondition for Returning to Talks
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Israel Softening Stand on Violations As Precondition for Returning to Talks

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The Israeli government appeared today to be leaning toward new, easier conditions for its return to the Jarring peace talks, suspended last Aug. 25 because of Egyptian violations of the standstill cease-fire. Premier Golda Meir will state Israel’s position in a major speech scheduled for delivery to the Knesset tomorrow. According to unconfirmed reports, she will abstain from repeating Israel’s demand for the removal of all Soviet missiles and missile sites from the Suez truce zone as a pre-condition for resumption of the talks, Such an omission would be of major significance, political observers noted, especially since Defense Minister Moshe Dayan omitted the usual demand from a widely reported speech in Haifa a week ago. According to sources here, Mrs. Meir is likely to say that Israel will resume its participation in the Jarring talks "when its demands are met." Such a formulation would open the way for a further exchange of views with the United States on conditions which, observers believe, will be considerably less than Israel’s previous insistence on full restoration of the pre-cease-fire military situation in the canal zone. According to some sources, Israel is placing less stress on the menace of Soviet missiles in Egypt because of the massive infusion of military hardware it is receiving and will continue to receive from the United States. According to these sources, Israel now regards as much more important the problem of reaching an understanding with Washington on its future boundaries.

The all important question of Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories is expected to come up early in the Jarring talks once they are resumed. Israel wants the U.S. to scrap the so-called Rogers’ plan, a program for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-June, 1967 borders made by Secretary of State William P. Rogers in Dec., 1969. Israel may make this issue, rather than removal of the Soviet missiles from the canal zone, its condition for returning to the Jarring talks, sources said. Mrs. Meir was lavish in her praise of U.S. economic and arms aid to Israel in a speech to the Israel Manufacturers Assoc, in Tel Aviv last Thursday. In that speech she said that Israel would continue to insist on its conditions for resumption of the Jarring talks but did not specify what they were. She observed that with the Middle East conflict now part of a global confrontation Israel was lucky that it had "such a good friend as the United States." She conceded that "differences" existed between Washington and Jerusalem "on various matters" but added that the U.S. was ready "to meet Israel’s defense requirements to an extent we have never dreamt of before." Nixon administration officials confirmed last week that Israel would receive $500 million in U.S. aid. mainly to offset the cost of arms purchases. American officials are believed to regard the latest military shipments to Israel as more than off-setting whatever military advantage Egypt may have gained by deploying Soviet missiles and artillery in the canal zone during the first 90-day cease-fire.

The shipments reportedly include 18 more supersonic Phantom jets, 18 more sub-sonic Skyhawk jets, 180 M-60 and M-40 tanks, Shrike air-to-ground missiles and other arms and munitions. Observers here said that while there has been no overt pressure on Israel by the U.S. to return to the Jarring talks, the military supplies and the strong U.S. diplomatic support given Israel during the UN General Assembly’s recent Mideast debate indicated to Israeli leaders that some reciprocal gesture on their part was expected. Deputy Premier Yigal Allon said in a speech at Kibbutz Brenner Thursday that there could be no progress by the Jarring mission until the Egyptian missile problem was solved. But he didn’t say Israel would not return to the talks and he stressed that Israel had the means to deal with the missile threat. Moshe Kol, Minister of Tourism in the Meir government and chairman of the Independent Liberal Party, told a party meeting Friday that there was an urgent need to return to the Jarring talks. He said that if a missile roll-back proved impossible to achieve, a new agreement would have to be negotiated.


Some observers here said Israel was preparing to return to the Jarring talks as a means of keeping the extended cease-fire in effect. Government officials are said to concede privately that Egypt, for internal political reasons, would not be able to continue the extended cease-fire beyond its 90-day period if the peace talks continued to be stalled. However, they said, Israel is not likely to return to the peace talks until just before the cease-fire expires, thereby assuring that the guns will remain silent for an additional period. There was no official comment here today on press reports that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan will take a new Israeli peace plan to Washington when he goes to the U.S. next month. Gen. Dayan will be on a speaking tour on behalf of the United Jewish Appeal. But according to an article by Chapman Pincher in the London Daily Express Friday, he will bring proposals for an Israeli withdrawal from the east bank of the Suez Canal in order to permit the waterway to be re-opened. Mr. Pincher, who is the Express’ military and science reporter, said the new plan came to light only days after Gen. Dayan suggested that Israel seek new ways to reactivate the Jarring peace mission. Although the plan would be "far from the total withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories that the Arabs have been demanding," there are "certain Arab leaders, including some Egyptians" who support it "as a starting point for a general settlement," Mr. Pincher wrote.

He said the Egyptians "are fearful of the results of another war and anxious to resettle the million refugees forced out of the Suez towns." According to the writer, the plan would please the Russians because it would open the Suez Canal to their warships and merchantmen plying to and from the Indian Ocean and would offer "a new excuse for keeping their pilots and advisors in Egypt." "Israel seems prepared to make this sacrifice in the interests of peace–provided the Egyptians agree that the Israelis remain in Sharm el-Sheikh which commands the entry to their main Red Sea port at Eilat," Mr. Pincher wrote. (According to reports from Washington today, the U.S. would be likely to have mixed reactions toward the alleged Dayan plan if it is ever proposed. These reports said that the U.S., while anxious for a break in the Arab-Israeli impasse, would like to see the Suez Canal remain closed indefinitely in order to prevent easy Russian access to the Indian Ocean.)

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