The question of reopening the Suez Canal is deadlocked, but the series of Egyptian “deadlines” are probably intended to serve political purposes and the cease-fire will continue, Foreign Minister Abba Eban told foreign journalists here this morning. Israel, he continued, has been and is ready to reach an agreement without prejudice to the security of either side, but the United States apparently believes it is possible only if Israel is prepared to make or accept proposals fully in Egypt’s favor. But the Egyptians, Eban said, have found the cease-fire–one year and 10 days old today–to their own benefit too, and they know that a resumption of shooting is not in their interest either militarily or internationally. Therefore, Eban concluded, Egyptian political activity, but not military activity, should be expected in the coming weeks, despite President Anwar Sadat’s threats that there must be war if Israel has not agreed by year’s end to vacate all the occupied territories. Replying to questions. Eban said there has been continuous contact with the accredited leaders of the Palestinian Arabs. But he added that those leaders, not wanting any such contact, have referred the Israelis to the Jordanian and other Arab governments.
The Foreign Minister criticized France by implication in declaring that there is no difference between selling arms to Egypt and selling them to Libya, and that if an embargo is imposed on the sale of arms to other countries it should apply to all countries. France has been selling arms to Libya, which has agreed to a federation with Egypt and Syria, but France has denied Israel 50 Mirage Jets that Jerusalem has already paid for. French arms sales to Libya, Eban charged, encourages Arab extremists. Referring to reported Arab plans to Isolate Israel and the United States in the United Nations. General Assembly, Eban stressed Israel’s attempt to establish her own network of diplomatic contacts. Regarding the invitation by the Soviet Committee for Peace to six Israelis to visit the USSR for two weeks, Eban said it would have been better if those invited represented a wider range of political opinion. He noted that no representative of the anti-Moscow Maki Communists was on the guest list.
The invitation, which is seen here as a Soviet attempt to sound out the possibility of a resumption of Soviet-Israeli relations, was reportedly sparked by the recent visit to Moscow of Meir Wilner, a Knesset member representing the pro-Kremlin Rakach Communists. In July the Soviet Journalist Victor Louis, who is believed to be a political agent for the Soviet government, made an unannounced visit to Israel. Also in July, chairman Moshe Sneh of Maki disclosed that Soviet diplomats had approached two Maki members to discuss a possible resumption of relations. While there is no Rakach member among the six Israelis invited, there is no Maki member to balance out Wilner’s earlier visit. The six invitees are all vocal opponents of the Meir government. Eban said today he hoped they would have the intellectual courage to inform their Russian hosts of the major political views in Israel. even if they do not endorse them. (In Paris, all of the French press commented today–if without emphasis–on the invitation. The conservative Le Figaro said that local observers in Israel called it an example of “new treads of thought” in the USSR, and more of an edging away from the Arab cause–as a result of recent developments in the Sudan and elsewhere–than an openly pro-Israel step.)