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Israel Reported Set to Tell Egypt Willing to Withdraw to ‘secure’ Borders

Israel is planning to inform Egypt shortly that it is fully ready to withdraw to “secure and agreed borders” within the framework of a peace settlement, it was learned today. A new note is being drafted by Premier Golda Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban which contains the word “withdrawal.” The note will be given to United Nations mediator Gunnar V. Jarring to be conveyed to Cairo. It will represent Israel’s reply to the latest Egyptian note and is intended to refute, Cairo’s contention that Israel refuses to accept the principle of withdrawal and is bent on expansion. The Cabinet authorized the Premier and the Foreign Minister to draft the reply jointly at yesterday’s session.

The new Israeli note will also seek clarification on several points, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned. One of them will be whether Egypt’s offer of freedom of navigation through international waterways refers specifically to Israeli shipping or to “all states in the region,” a formula with which Israel has had poor experience in the past. The Government will also insist on “quiet diplomacy,” meaning no leaks to news media of the content of notes exchanged in the Jarring talks (Foreign Secretary Sin Alec Douglas Home declined to state in the House of Commons today whether Britain would be willing to participate in an international peace-keeping force to police the boundaries that may be drawn between Israel and its neighbors as part of an eventual Middle East peace settlement. Sir Alec was questioned on the matter by Christopher Mayhew, a Labor MP. Mayhew also asked the Foreign Secretary if he had noted “the increasing international pressure to induce Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.” Sir Alec replied that “it would not be wise at the moment to state what the Government had in mind.” He gave the same reply when asked about an international peace-keeping force.)

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