JERUSALEM (Mar. 29)
The Israel government believes there is no chance at present to get the stalled Jarring talks going and is considering “interim solutions” short of a formal peace treaty, it was learned today. Several such plans are being discussed on the Cabinet level and are expected to be raised at an extraordinary Cabinet meeting scheduled for Wednesday. One plan calls for re-opening the Suez Canal on the basis of an agreement with Egypt but without any evacuation of territories or reduction of troops. According to informed sources, Israel would accept such an arrangement only if the state of belligerency between Israel and Egypt was ended. Should the matter of troop withdrawals come up, Israel would insist on reciprocity by Egypt, the sources said. Defense experts are also reported to be examining a proposal by United States Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco for an Israeli withdrawal to a line 26 miles east of the Suez Canal and another plan for a unilateral pull-back only a few miles from the canal bank.
The token pull-back would depend on whether military experts think Israeli forces could control the canal’s banks without being right on them. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan is reportedly opposed to any unilateral pull-back. Israeli circles also take a dim view of the Sisco plan. They say that without a formal peace settlement it would be foolish for Israel to give up its Suez Canal line which provides the greatest in-depth security for Israel. According to these circles, a line 26 miles east of the canal would be more difficult to defend, would require more manpower and would lack the natural barrier provided by the waterway. The government is also reportedly considering a plan that would convert the current de facto cease-fire into an armistice. This would necessitate a contractual obligation by both sides not to resort to armed forces in the absence of a formal peace treaty.