JERUSALEM (Jan. 31)
Informed sources said here Friday that United Nations Secretary General U Thant and UN Mideast emissary Gunnar Jarring intend to propose the early removal of the Jarring talks from the UN site in New York to a city in the Middle East. The sources said this information had been conveyed to them by Thant. He and Dr. Jarring also reportedly want to propose that the level of the indirect Israel-Arab talks be raised from the ambassadorial level to that of foreign minister. Both proposals were initially made by Israel and rejected by the Arabs who insisted on New York as the talks’ site.
Their demand for an ambassadorial level was reportedly motivated by the wish to downgrade the talks as much as possible from any status as negotiations. Israel accepted the Arab demands last summer to get the talks, proposed by Secretary of State William P. Rogers, underway and named Foreign Minister Abba Eban as its official delegate. He still holds that appointment but Israel’s UN Ambassador, Yosef Tekoah was named as Eban’s deputy.
It was also learned here that, contrary to reports appearing in New York, the Nixon Administration has not asked Israel for any concession as the price for extension of the present cease-fire, scheduled to expire Feb. 5. The sources said the Administration has in fact expressed “great satisfaction” with Israel’s attitude on the Jarring talks and is unwilling to yield to any Egyptian pressures to demand a political gesture from Israel. It was also reported that if peace can be reached with Jordan, Israel would be willing to yield part of its sovereignty over Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, the area in the old city on which the Herodian Temple once stood. Part of that area now is the site of the Dome of the Rock and the El Aksa Mosque, which together constitute the third holiest place of the Moslem faith. According to a plan, reportedly worked out at the highest Israel Government levels, Israel would cede to Jordan sovereignty over the two mosques and a road from the mosques to the Jordanian border once a peace treaty with Jordan is signed. The rest of the Temple Mount would be leased to the Jordanian Government.