MIAMI BEACH (Feb. 6)
The United States and Israel were depicted by a State Department official here last night as sharing the same position on the framework for a Middle East peace settlement. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph J. Sisco told an audience of 500 attending the two-day national conference of the American Technion Society that the US and Israel were lined up together in their interpretation of the Security Council Resolution 242 as opposed to the interpretation held by the Arab states and the Soviet Union.
The gap between the two added to the difficulty, complexity and depth of the Middle East conflict, Sisco said, predicting that it would require a long time to find a feasible solution. The Arab states and the USSR stress the resolution’s call for an Israeli withdrawal from occupied Arab territories, while Israel and the US, according to Sisco, share the view that negotiations leading to secure, agreed boundaries are the first step towards its implementation.
SKEPTICAL ABOUT JARRING’S ROLE
Sisco stressed the importance of the US initiative for interim talks between Israel and Egypt that could lead to reopening the Suez Canal. He was uncertain, however, of the role of United Nations mediator Gummar V. Jarring. “It is difficult to see how Ambassador Jarring can inject a fresh perspective into the situation at the present time,” Sisco said. On the other hand, he observed that the very existence of a US role in trying to bring the two sides together was a deterrent to a renewal of hostilities in the Middle East.
Sisco criticized the Soviet Union’s role as “opportunistic,” observing that Moscow reacted only when it seemed the Middle East was about to go over the brink. But he welcomed the joint communique issued in Moscow by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Soviet leaders as “impressive” in its emphasis on a political rather than a military settlement.
Sisco said that his recent series of talks with Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin on the US role in furthering interim talks with Egypt ended successfully with Israel’s agreement to participate in such talks. “Over the next week or two we will turn to Cairo.” Sisco said, indicating an American approach to test Egypt’s position on interim talks.