JERUSALEM (Dec. 17)
Premier Golda Meir met with United States Ambassador Walworth Barbour in her Tel Aviv office for more than an hour today. The Ambassador is believed to have delivered the latest of the American replies to Israel’s request for further clarifications of policy. Government circles believe Mrs. Meir is prepared to recommend Israel’s return to the Jarring peace talks at next Sunday’s Cabinet meeting. They said her decision depended on the U.S. response to Israel’s request for an American promise to use its veto in the Security Council against any attempt by the Arab-Soviet bloc to alter the crucial Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967. On other matters on which Israel asked clarification, the American response has been only partially satisfactory. Nevertheless, a number of Cabinet ministers are said to support an early return to the Jarring talks. Israel has been asked by the U.S. to state its decision before Christmas to give American officials time to make the necessary arrangements to reactivate the Jarring mission. Washington is believed to want the talks to resume before Jan. 5 when United Nations Secretary General U Thant delivers his progress report on Mideast peace moves to the Security Council. Israelis are said to want the talks to resume well before the Feb. 5 cease-fire deadline to avoid the impression that Israel returned to the negotiations because it was fearful of a new outbreak of fighting.
Mrs. Meir and her advisors were reportedly satisfied with President Nixon’s reply to Israel’s requests for military aid. He is believed to have stipulated only one exception, the nature of which is classified, because of technical difficulties. On other issues, however, the replies are less than satisfactory but the government is convinced that no further commitments can be extracted from Washington. Government circles believe it is useless to expect the U.S. to give Israel the same unqualified support in the UN that the Arab states receive from the Soviet Union. They say the U.S., which has always been reluctant to exercise its veto power and has done so only rarely, cannot be expected to veto every Security Council resolution that Israel considers unfavorable. But they believe that Washington will stand by its pledge not to permit the watering down of Resolution 242. If such a commitment was received by Mrs. Meir, the way will be open for Israel to return to the Jarring talks, although the move still faces some domestic hurdles. The National Religious Party which holds three Cabinet posts, is not satisfied with the American replies and has threatened a new coalition crisis if they are accepted. Mrs. Meir promised the NRP executive today that the government would decide on its return to the Jarring talks only after “careful study” of the latest American clarifications.