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Cabinet Debates Israel’s Return to Jarring Talks but Fails to Reach Conclusion

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The Cabinet debated Israel’s return to the Jarring peace talks for two hours today but reached no conclusions. An official communique said the debate would be resumed at the next session, meaning next Sunday. Official sources said that “at the present stage there is no plan to hold an extraordinary meeting in mid-week, there being no extraordinary political reason for it. The debate is believed to have focused on whether the latest messages from Washington clarifying the U.S. position were sufficient to meet Israel’s terms for returning to the peace talks. The U.S. reportedly gave satisfactory replies with regard to Israel’s request for military aid but refused to commit itself to veto resolutions in the Security Council that Israel might consider harmful or to abandon the Rogers’ plan calling for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-June, 1967 borders. The official Cabinet communique stated that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan reported on his talks with President Nixon, Defense Secretary Laird and Secretary Rogers in Washington last week-end and that Foreign Minister Abby? Eban reviewed political affairs.

Eban returned from London on Friday night where he met with Foreign Secretary Alec Douglas-Home and presided at a meeting of Israeli Ambassadors from the Continent and Scandinavia. He told newsmen at the airport, “I discussed with (Sir Alec Douglas) Home matters which caused Israel concern, following recent manifestations which found their expression in votes at the United Nations.” He said the talks were mainly concerned with “improving the atmosphere which has been created by these manifestations.” He said that Sir Alec had made “great efforts to Impress upon me that no change has occurred in British policy which is that Israel should not agree to any arrangement which would not ensure its security.” A Cabinet decision on the Jarring talks had been expected at today’s session and there was no indication why it has been delayed. The U.S. had reportedly urged Israel to come to a decision before Christmas to give American officials time to make the necessary arrangements for reactivating the Jarring talks. The U.S. is reportedly anxious to have the talks resumed before Jan. 5 when Secretary General U Thant delivers his Mideast progress report to the Security Council.

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