JERUSALEM (Jan. 10)
Israel is willing to accede to the Arab request to discuss territorial borders at an early stage in the Jarring talks, provided the Arab governments expressly declare their readiness to conclude a permanent peace pact, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency has learned from a very reliable source. The source said this proposal was the main subject of the conferences Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, the United Nations special Mideast mediator, had here Friday and yesterday with Premier Golda Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban. Israel announced officially only that the conferences had been “useful and constructive” and that “Israel submitted to Dr. Jarring suggestions and ideas on the establishment of peace and Dr. Jarring on his part stated that he would convey them to them to the other side.” The Swedish diplomat left this morning and was due back in New York later today. He had flown to Israel last Friday morning, accompanied by Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah and his own advisor, Ian Berendson, at the invitation of Eban. At the airport before his departure today, Dr. Jarring said his talks here had been “useful and valuable for the future.”
Israeli willingness–even on a conditional basis–to discuss future borders in the initial stages of the negotiations is a departure from previous policy, inasmuch as she has been insisting that topic must follow agreement on all other aspects of a settlement. Mrs. Meir and Eban presented to Dr. Jar ring a list of seven subjects they are willing to discuss in the first stages of the talks without Arab declarations of intention to seek peace. The subjects are: the character of the peace to be concluded; the nature of the peace treaties; principles of secure borders, without their actually being drawn yet; demilitarized zones; Arab refugees; freedom of navigation through the Suez Canal and the Strait of Tiran, and exchanges of prisoners. The two Israeli leaders also made it clear to Dr. Jarring that they see his main task as getting the parties together for talks, Mrs., Meir denied the Arab and Soviet charge that Israel’s invitation to Dr. Jarring to visit here now was a delaying tactic and even “sabotage.” But she stressed to the mediator that Israel could not negotiate “while watching the clock” and in an atmosphere of war-threats–references to Egypt’s declarations that she was prepared for battle if Israel did not submit a withdrawal timetable by Feb. 5, the date the cease-fire extension expires.
Mrs. Meir also spoke, without elaboration, of the “danger” that would result if Egypt sought a special Security Council meeting to pressure Israel to withdraw from the occupied Arab area. Her remark left room for speculation that she believes such a Council meeting could presage a breakdown of the peace talks, It was noted here that while two high-ranking officials–Dr. Yaacov Herzog, director general of the Premier’s office, and Gideon Rafael, director general of the Foreign Ministry–and two subordinate officials joined Mrs. Meir and Eban in the weekend consultations, Deputy Premier Yigal Allon and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan were absent. No reason was announced for this, but a source close to Dayan said the general did not want to be associated with the consultations in case they were unsuccessful. The source added that every one of Ambassador Tekoah’s major moves henceforth must first be cleared with Jerusalem, thus giving Dayan enough opportunity to influence the Arab-Israeli talks without being too closely associated with them. At the weekly Cabinet meeting today, Mrs. Meir and Eban reported on their talks with Dr. Jarring, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Haim Bar-Lev reviewed defense matters. Official spokesmen declined to elaborate on the nature of the Cabinet discussion.