Israel Reported Favoring Resumption of Jarring Talks Without Prior Conditions

The Cabinet held two sessions today. The second, which lasted well into the evening, was devoted mainly to political matters linked to Premier Golda Meir’s meeting with President Nixon in Washington later this week. The Cabinet also approved the government’s reply to a memorandum from four African Presidents conducting a Middle East peace mission on behalf of the Organization of African Unity. The reply will be sent to President Leopold Senghor of Senegal, head of the mission, who will in turn submit it to a committee of 10 African heads of State meeting in Dakar.

According to informed sources, the Israeli reply agrees to a resumption of the Jarring peace mission without prior conditions–which is believed to be the primary aim of the African mission–meaning that Israel will not commit itself in advance to withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories. On other points the Israeli reply is more guarded, informed sources said. The question of demilitarized zones, Israel says, must depend on the nature of peace and international guarantees can be considered only in the context in which they are proposed. Israel is also said to insist that its presence be maintained at Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mrs. Meir’s talks with President Nixon, Secretary of State William P. Rogers and other American officials are considered of crucial importance here. Mrs. Meir is expected to advance Israel’s doctrine of open options in settling the Middle East conflict and to emphasize her government’s readiness to discuss all questions without prior conditions, Israel is also said to be willing to enter special agreements to reopen the Suez Canal. But Mrs. Meir will insist that her country cannot be expected to negotiate under pressure from the US. She is expected to state that the resumed delivery of Phantom jets is required as much to redress the political harm caused Israel by the US embargo as for military reasons, informed sources said.

NEXT STORY