JERUSALEM (Dec. 13)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan returned home from the United States tonight. He declined to answer specific questions regarding his meetings in Washington with President Nixon and other top administration officials. Dayan missed today’s Cabinet meeting. But the government is still marking time on its vital decision to return to the Jarring peace talks and is not considered likely to reach any conclusion until it gets Dayan’s full report. It was considered doubtful however that a special Cabinet meeting would be called for the purpose during the week because Foreign Minister Abba Eban leaves Tuesday on a brief trip abroad. Eban reported to the Cabinet today on “political developments of the last few days.” The government’s decision on the Jarring talks will apparently be based on the latest word Dayan brought from Washington and on the U.S. government’s response to its request for “clarification” of certain assurances. A key to the fate of the Jarring talks appears to be whether the U.S. will press for the Rogers territorial plan which Israel objects to because it would pre-determine the outcome of the peace talks. The Nixon administration has not dissociated itself from the Rogers plan which would have Israel withdraw to its pre-June, 1967 frontiers with only minor territorial adjustments. President Nixon refused to commit himself one way or the other when asked about the Rogers plan at his press conference last Thursday.
“The policy (of the U.S.) is based basically on the ’67 resolution. Now that’s a matter for negotiation and to be more precise than that I do not think would be helpful at this time,” Nixon said. A Foreign Ministry spokesman interpreted that remark as an indication “that the U.S. has slightly moved away from the Rogers plan.” But Agriculture Minister Haim Gvati who is close to the Labor Party inner circles, said yesterday that President Nixon had informed Premier Golda Meir that there was no change of U.S. policy with regard to the Rogers plan. According to Gvati, the President agreed with Mrs. Meir that Israel should make no withdrawals from occupied territories prior to a peace settlement and further shared the Israeli view that territorial matters should be discussed only in the last stages of the Jarring talks. On the other requests made by Mrs. Meir, Nixon’s responses were favorable, Gvati said in a speech at Kibbutz Maagan in Galilee yesterday. He said the U.S. has promised to continue economic aid to Israel and to provide weapons, including some that are available only in the U.S. Washington has also promised to act to prevent the adoption of anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council, short of exercising its veto. In addition, the U.S. indicated that it would warn the Soviet Union against active intervention to prevent a defeat of the Egyptian Army should fighting start anew in the Suez Canal zone, Gvati said.