JERUSALEM (Aug. 4)
Contrary to previous expectations, United States Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco will probably not extend his stay here for another week and will leave Friday, eight days after he arrived, informed sources said today. One possibility, they said, was that he would return home before visiting Egypt, and maybe even double back here between his Washington and Cairo stops. (In Washington, State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey said it was “highly unlikely” that Sisco would go to Egypt this time. See separate story.) American sources here had said earlier today that Sisco would remain in Israeli an additional week because of resistance by Israeli officials to his reported proposals for Israeli “flexibility” on terms for an interim Israeli-Egyptian agreement on reopening the Suez. He is said to have recommended that Israel agree to a limited pullback from her canal positions–between 20 and 25 miles–and a token Egyptian military reoccupation of the vacated area, in return for assurances of Egyptian readiness to extend the cease-fire–which will be one year old Saturday–for two to three years.
A report in the New York Times this morning that the Nixon Administration was pondering plans for a three to four year commitment to sell Israel an additional 100 jet warplanes was considered here a deliberate leak by the United States to indicate a promise of “compensation” to Israel for a more “flexible” attitude toward Sisco’s proposals. The consensus of Israel’s leaders was reported to be that the Sisco proposals were not satisfactory and that they will be rejected by Mrs. Meir but that the rejection will be phrased diplomatically. Details were lacking but the reports were that the turndown will be phrased in a manner to give Sisco some leverage when and if he goes to Egypt to continue his efforts there for an interim Suez Canal agreement. The American sources also said Sisco apparently had not yet decided on a visit to Cairo when his talks here are completed. If he does go to Egypt, it was indicated, he is likely to go via Cyprus and be joined by Michael Sterner, head of the State Department’s Egyptian desk. Sterner visited Cairo last month for a series of consultations with Donald Bergus, chief resident diplomat in Cairo, on the interim settlement proposals.
The Assistant Secretary conferred for 75 minutes today with Premier Golda Meir, Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, Foreign Minister Abba Eban, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Ambassador to the U.S. Yitzhak Rabin, the U.S. envoy here, Walworth Barbour, and other officials. The reported plan for Egyptian troops to enter the parts of the Sinai evacuated by Israel was apparently the main stumbling block at the conference. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned that even the so-called doves of the left-wing Mapam Party were among the strong opponents of the plan. Mapam advocates withdrawal tied to demilitarization, as suggested in Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967. Therefore, the proposed Egyptian canal crossing is as unacceptable to Mapam as to anyone else. Today’s official communique noted the “continuing efforts” of the participants to reach agreement on a partial settlement. Tomorrow, Sisco will confer with Eban and other Foreign Ministry officials on matters not connected with the canal, such as loans and grants and other economic issues.