JERUSALEM (Feb. 6)
Israeli circles expressed the belief today that Egypt will not reopen hostilities along the Suez Canal, at least for the time being. They noted that the joint Soviet Egyptian communique released Friday in Moscow and Cairo at the end of President Anwar Sadat’s second visit to the Soviet capital since last Oct., stressed the need for a political solution to the Middle East conflict.
While Egypt and the USSR emphasized a renewal of United Nations mediator Gunnar V. Jarring’s peace-making efforts–the communique failed to mention the American initiative for an interim Suez accord–circles here believe that Moscow and Cairo are not unalterably opposed to an interim agreement reached through “close proximity” talks between Israel and Egypt.
The joint communique contained no specific Soviet pledge on new arms shipments to Egypt although President Sadat had stated publicly before he went to Moscow that his purpose was to obtain more Soviet weapons to prepare Egypt for an inevitable military showdown with Israel. The communique said only that the two sides had “considered measures” to “further strengthen” Egyptian military capabilities against Israel “and outlined steps in this direction.
USSR OPTS FOR POLITICAL SETTLEMENT
The United States meanwhile has agreed to sell Israel the full measure of Phantom and Skyhawk jets that she has asked for. (According to a New York Times report today from Washington, Israel will receive 42 F-4 Phantoms and 90 A-4 Skyhawks over the next two-three years. Previous indications were that the US would supply 18 Phantoms and 36 Skyhawks within the framework of a plan to modernize Israel’s airforce.)
(American and Israeli officials insist that there is no direct connection between the reversal of the US position on Phantoms and Israel’s agreement, announced last week, to participate in proximity talks. But US officials have pointed out privately that both issues were negotiated simultaneously and were “not unrelated,” the Times report said.)
Israeli circles believe that Sadat is returning to Cairo without any Soviet pledge of support for Egyptian military action against Israel. Until their summit meeting with President Nixon next May, Soviet leaders are expected to concentrate on the promotion of a political settlement in the Middle East, circles here believe.
JARRING MISSION NOT EXCLUDED
Some sources believe that Moscow is unhappy with the Sadat regime and would like to see more pro-Soviet elements replace him. They noted that the joint communique expressed the usual Soviet expressions of support for Egypt but not for Sadat personally as used to be the case with his predecessor, the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Premier Golda Meir said in a television interview Friday night that she was sure the Soviet does not want a renewal of hostilities in the Middle East. She said the reopening of the Suez Canal would create an atmosphere conducive to serious negotiations.
Foreign Minister Abba Eban said, in an interview published in the Torino daily, La Stampa, that Israel was prepared to accept a resumption of the Jarring mission although it preferred American mediation, However, he insisted that the renewal of Dr. Jarring’s activities must be based on an Egyptian undertaking not to demand pre-conditions. He said the bravest mediation attempt yet made has been that of the African presidents “whose result will moreover permit a positive reevaluation for all future negotiations, including those of Jarring.”