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Possibility of Palestinian Entity Absent from State Department Report

The possibility a Palestinian entity might emerge from a Middle East peace settlement is not mentioned by Secretary of State William P. Rogers in his voluminous report on United States foreign policy in the past two years under his stewardship. Referring to the Arab-Israeli dispute, Mr. Rogers notes in the 617-page volume issued Friday by the State Department that “Jerusalem should be a unified city” and that “Israel and Jordan should both have roles in its civic, economic and religious life.” Israel has full control of all of Jerusalem as a result of the 1967 war. Its government has repeatedly made clear that it will not relinquish sovereignty over the city. A State Department source said that the reason for the absence of reference to Palestine is that “essentially the matter regarding Jerusalem and the West Bank is for the Arabs to determine.” King Hussein of Jordan “has the largest dimension in this respect,” the source said, “His position is that if a peace settlement is achieved, he will be prepared to consider suggestions for the role of Palestinians.” About three months ago Department sources indicated that the United States was looking favorably upon the establishment of a separate Palestinian political entity taking in the West Bank of the Jordan and possibly the Gaza strip. Secretary Rogers’ volume is the first of its kind issued by the State Department in 75 years. The last similar comprehensive compilation of reports and documents came during President Grover Cleveland’s second term in 1896.

The Rogers’ report, compiled as a supplement documenting President Nixon’s reports both last month and last year on the state of world affairs, does not reveal any significant American policy changes or departures from the President’s summations. Regarding the American position on the Middle East, Secretary Rogers in his preface to the report reiterates that his own “policy statement of 1969 and the President’s recent report on foreign policy represent our judgment of what would constitute the basis of a just peace.” A short passage on U.S.-Israel ties leads the section regarding American bilateral relations with other Middle Eastern countries. It says “traditionally close U.S.-Israel ties persisted during 1969-70 against the strains and turmoil of fluctuating periods of military conflict and intensified diplomatic efforts to bring about negotiations” in the Middle East. Despite significant “differences of opinion” with Israel regarding the U.S. view on the “basis for settlement” in the area, the Rogers’ report adds, “there has been no disagreement on the basic goal–a comprehensive and binding peace agreement between the parties to the conflict which would put into effect the UN Resolution of Nov. 22, 1967.” Regarding Egypt, the report says that “since 1969 the United States has made it clear to the UAR, both publicly and privately, that we are prepared to restore diplomatic relations without conditions.”

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