WASHINGTON (Aug. 25)
State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey said today that he did not envision a renewal of the shooting in the Middle East this year, despite the difficulties in reaching even an interim settlement and the shadow of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s threat that there will be war unless Israel agrees this year to leave all the occupied Arab territories. “The longer it takes to reach an interim settlement,” McCloskey said, “the more difficult it will be to reach an over-all settlement, and the possibility for it becomes more and more difficult as time ensues. But we haven’t made a judgment that if an agreement is not reached this year there will be an outbreak of fighting. I don’t take it to that point.” State Department sources said later that failure to achieve an interim agreement would erase all progress to date toward clarification of issues. McCloskey declined comment on criticism by the Israeli Foreign Ministry of his equating Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s reference to a “permanent” or “established” Israeli regime in the occupied areas with the joint Egyptian-Libya-Syrian statement vowing no negotiations or peace with Israel. McCloskey had called both statements “harmful” and “inconsistent” with United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.
But McCloskey did observe that “on the substance of the matter we did welcome clarifications and explanations by Minister Dayan after our comment on his statement last week.” McCloskey did not explain why, therefore, he had repeated Monday his criticism of Dayan’s speech although the Israeli had issued his clarifications Sunday. Regarding the Arab summit statement, McCloskey said he wanted to “underline again as unfortunate the negative aspects of that statement, the more so that it was issued by the heads of those governments.” He indicated that the Arab communique would continue to be discussed diplomatically by the U.S., probably in Cairo. The State Department representative said that the visit to Cairo of the U.S. ambassador to the Netherlands. Raymond Middendorf, was just a vacation, and that Middendorf was not there “insofar as the diplomatic efforts in the Middle East are concerned.” McCloskey added: “If he did chat with (Deputy Premier Mahmoud) Riad, he was not assigned to go there for that purpose.” Egypt broke off formal relations with the U.S. at the time of the 1967 Six-Day War, but Egyptian-American contacts have continued unofficially.