GENEVA (Jan. 6)
Highly reliable American sources said here last night that Israel would get Phantom jet aircraft but only in small deliveries of two or three at a time while the US continued to pressure Israel to soften its position in talks with Egypt. The sources said American officials referred cynically to this scheme as “blackmail on the installment plan.”
They said that as the Phantoms are rationed cut, the State Department expects Israel to participate in so-called “hotel talks,” meaning indirect negotiations with Egypt at the same venue with the Americans acting as go-betweens. State Department officials assume that Israel can be made to bend a little from its position that an interim Suez agreement must not be linked to an Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai as part of an overall settlement, the sources said.
The sources stated that the State Department was anxious to get the talks moving because they believe that time is running out for President Anwar Sadat of Egypt who must produce either a diplomatic victory or war if his regime is to survive.
The sources said that the renewed of talks under United Nations mediator Gunnar V. Jarring was no obstacle to the “hotel talks.” The State Department believes that the two sets of talks could dovetail and that Jarring could be helpful to the Americans in achieving negotiations according to their pattern, the sources said. They noted that the US concedes that Israel is not the only obstacle to the implementation of this plan as Egypt itself has not yet agreed.