Jerusalem (Oct. 27)
Israel has informed the United States through diplomatic channels that it will not participate further in talks on an interim Suez agreement as long as the US continues to withhold the Phantom jets Israel has asked for, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned from authoritative sources today. That position was said to have been the consensus of the Cabinet which discussed the matter Sunday. Washington has been told that Israel cannot continue negotiating while she is aware that the balance of power in the area is undergoing a change through Soviet supplies of war materiel to Egypt, including planes, the sources said.
Other sources said today, however, that Israel was not complaining about the overall US commitment to maintain the Mideast balance, but only the withholding of Phantoms. Yesterday, Premier Golda Meir accused the US of having capitulated to the Egyptian position on an interim agreement as evidenced by the withholding of Phantoms and Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ Oct. 4 speech to the United Nations General Assembly which Israel regarded an erosion of America’s previous position. Mrs. Meir was given an overwhelming vote of confidence by the Knesset after her speech.
ROGERS’ PROPOSAL NOT BASIS FOR TALKS
The only criticism of the government’s tough stand came from Uri Avneri of the tiny Haolam Hazeh faction and the pro-Moscow New Communist Party. Knesset members said there was no point “playing ostrich” and accepting the points made by Rogers without relating to their real meaning and expressed the opinion that it was doubtful any progress could be made towards an interim agreement in the near future.
Authoritative sources here said the points made in Rogers’ Oct. 4 speech cannot be accepted by Israel as a basis for negotiating an interim agreement with Egypt. They added, however, that Israel does not reject every sentence in every point made by Rogers. But there are some fundamental preconditions that Israel insists on before resuming talks. These include a clear understanding that there will be no Egyptian military presence east of the Suez Canal if Israeli forces withdraw from the east bank and an understanding that the interim agreement will not be simply a stage in the implementation of the Security Council’s Resolution 242.
The Israeli position is at odds with Rogers’ views. In his General Assembly speech he specifically described an interim settlement as merely a step toward complete and full implementation of Resolution 242. He also asserted that he thought a compromise was possible on the issue of whether Egyptian troops should cross the canal under an interim agreement. Other Rogers’ points were his conclusion that neither side can realistically expect to achieve as part of an interim, complete agreement on an overall settlement which will have to be worked out through negotiations under UN mediator, Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring, and that a permanent end to belligerency is not realizable in the context of an interim agreement.