JERUSALEM (Feb. 2)
Israel has formally offered Jordan discussion on “every outstanding issue” between the two countries, including the subject of the Moslem holy places in Jerusalem, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned tonight from trustworthy sources. The offer reportedly was contained in the reply which Israel sent to Jordan yesterday through Dr. Gunnar Jarring, the United Nations Middle East peace emissary. But it was reported that Israel made its offer to discuss those issues with Jordan conditional on a change in the peace terms proposed by Jordan through Dr. Jarring. Israel was understood to insist that, in all provisions of a settlement concerning the rights of the various countries in the Middle East region, Israel must be mentioned specifically, rather than in the general terms used by Jordan in its statement to Dr. Jarring which reportedly does not mention Israel directly at any point.
According to the sources, Israel did not say that the issue of Jerusalem as such would be negotiable but it did not expressly rule out that topic. Last week, it was reliably reported that, if peace could be reached with Jordan, Israel would be willing to yield part of its sovereignty over Jerusalem’s Mount Temple, the area in the old city, part of which is now the site of the Dome of the Rock and the El Aksa Mosque, which together are the third holiest place of the Moslem faith. That plan has not been officially submitted through Dr. Jarring, the JTA was informed but it was presumed that the official offer made to Jordan yesterday was based on that plan.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Abba Eban met the envoys of the United States and Japan yesterday and informed them of Israel’s current position on the Jarring talks, it was learned from reliable sources in Jerusalem, and that he met today with the ambassadors of Belgium and Argentina. He reportedly has scheduled meetings tomorrow with the ambassadors of Britain, Italy and France. Premier Golda Meir said in the Knesset today that it was not true that Israel had given Dr. Jarring details of new borders Israel may want. She also denied reports that the Government had taken any decision on negotiation on new frontiers at the current stage of the Jarring talks or had indicated any conditions for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied areas.