Israelis Take Dim View of New Sisco Visit Without U.S. Policy Changes

Political circles here see little chance for success of the projected new visit to Israel by Joseph J. Sisco, the American Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, as long as the United States position on the Middle East problem remains unclear and as long as there is no change in Egypt’s position. Sisco’s visit is not yet certain, but he has intimated his intention to make the trip. What he has in mind, according to the reported contents of his recent conversation in Washington with Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin, is to spend a week in Israel for comprehensive talks aimed at breaking the deadlock over an interim solution involving a reopening of the Suez Canal. Sisco was in Israel in May when he accompanied Secretary of State Rogers on a tour of five Mideastern countries.

Circles here believe Sisco will try to “sell” Israel a new State Department policy advocating a more extensive Israeli withdrawal from the Canal line than was envisioned earlier. There are also indications that the State Department has abandoned one of the major points on which it has been in full agreement with Israel–that no Egyptian troops may cross the canal, even after an Israeli pullback, These fears were reflected by Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin in a taped radio interview broadcast here last Saturday. Premier Golda Meir and several Cabinet ministers objected to the interview, but not necessarily because they disputed its contents.

Rabin’s interview, broadcast over the Israeli radio for home consumption, was sharply critical of U.S. Middle East policies and blasted the United Nations as “an institution for demagoguery” whose “decisions are meaningless unless the U.S. supports them.” According to Rabin, the U.S. is above all concerned with assuring its own interests in the Mideast and did not want a situation in which Israel’s friendship was America’s only asset in the region. He said the U.S. bought a settlement, even if it meant stripping Israel of most of the territories captured in the Six-Day War. The Cabinet discussed Rabin’s remarks at its session yesterday and took the unprecedented step of announcing that it had discussed them. This indicated that Premier Golda Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban were less than happy with what their Ambassador in Washington had to say publicly about his host country. Rabin, who holds the rank of Maj. Gen. and was Chief of Staff of Israel’s armed forces during the 1967 Six-Day War, is an outspoken individual. Sources here say he rarely clears his interviews or statements in advance with Jerusalem.

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