WASHINGTON (Dec. 9)
A senior State Department official told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency today that Premier Golda Meir is “absolutely right” in asking that the parties to the Middle East conflict enter negotiations without preconditions. “We think that’s fair to both sides,” the official said. His remark was a re-assertion of a statement by chief State Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey at yesterday’s news briefing that “both sides have the right to enter negotiations without conditions.”
Mrs. Meir stated repeatedly at her four news conferences last week in Washington that Israel asks only for a “fair chance” in the negotiations and that no pre-conditions be established before they begin. Today’s remark to the JTA emphasized US support of the Israeli position and indicated that the State Department is in full accord with Jerusalem on how negotiations should begin. The official said there has been no reaction so far from Cairo to McCloskey’s statement yesterday.
Israeli representatives at the UN and in world capitals meanwhile are trying to line up additional international support for negotiations without preconditions. Reports from Jerusalem today confirmed this and noted that Israel was seeking to avert a General Assembly resolution that would call on Israel to reply affirmatively to Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring’s Feb. 8 memo asking Israel for a commitment to withdraw to the pre-June, 1967 boundaries. Several Latin American, African and European states are trying to reach an agreement on that kind of resolution to reactivate the Jarring mission.
Israeli representatives have asked them, in effect, if they wanted renewal of the Jarring mission or “just another resolution on the books.” Israel has made it clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will not return to the Jarring peace efforts on the basis of the Feb. 8 memo. The African presidents investigating the Middle East impasse on behalf of the Organization for African Unity recommend renewal of the Jarring mission without conditions. Egypt, however, has been exerting pressure on the African delegates to alter their stand and according to Israeli sources, some of them seem to be wavering.