Government Ready to Approve Return to Talks; Faux Pas by Sisco Delayed Decision

Informed sources said today that the government is ready to approve Israel’s return to the Jarring talks and will announce its decision at next Sunday’s Cabinet meeting, barring unforeseen last minute developments. A Foreign Ministry official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that “no further clarifications are being sought from the United States and all discussions now in progress are internal.” According to one source, the Cabinet was prepared to announce an affirmative decision on the Jarring talks at its session yesterday but Premier Golda Meir and a group of senior ministers decided to delay it for a week. According to the sources, Mrs. Meir was piqued by a note sent to Israel last week by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Joseph J. Sisco, urging a swift decision on the Jarring talks because time was running out. The source said it was not clear to which level of the Israel government Sisco addressed his note but Mrs. Meir thought it smacked too much of a “diktat” and decided that a “mild gesture” of defiance was called for. President Nixon is known to have been anxious to have an Israeli decision on the Jarring talks before Christmas so that he could announce in his Christmas message that the Middle East peace negotiations were about to resume. The fact that he will not have his reply until after Christmas is the result of Sisco’s faux pas, the Israeli source said.

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