Eban Officially Informs Jarring of Israel’s Return to Talks

Foreign Minister Abba Eban announced this morning that he has informed Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring of Israel’s decision to return to the peace talks under his auspices and called for a “rhetorical de-escalation” in the Middle East. Eban addressed a press conference in the aftermath of last night’s Knesset vote approving a government motion to end Israel’s four month-old boycott of the Jarring talks. Eban observed that threats voiced recently by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt did not create a congenial atmosphere for renewal of the peace talks. “If it was Egypt’s intention to intimidate us, our flesh visibly refused to creep,” Eban said. (Sadat responded to Israel’s decision to return to the Jarring talks yesterday by ordering his nation on a war footing.) Eban brusquely dismissed Egyptian demands for a timetable of withdrawal from occupied Arab territory in advance of the peace talks as a condition for extending the current cease-fire which expires Feb. 5. He declared that Israel wants to approach the peace talks without any prior conditions. He said Israel would regard it as “a natural thing” if the Jordanian government were to Include West Bank residents in its delegation to the Jarring talks, but added Israel would not negotiate with Palestinians as such. He said shifting the site of the talks from the UN to a place closer to the three countries concerned would be desirable, because “New York cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered part of the Middle East.”

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