WASHINGTON (Feb. 13)
Authoritative Egyptian sources, bitterly charging that the Nixon administration has accepted Israel’s views of the Middle East situation, have informed newsmen here that Israel must change its outlook before a settlement in the area can be reached. “What is needed is a change in attitude by Israel, by the government, or by new leadership” to effect a fresh approach towards agreement, a high placed Egyptian source declared to a large group of newsmen. “We are not advocating a coup d’etat in Israel,” he said, “but an understanding of the realities not of today but of realities in the years to come. Israel’s short-term gains could be a long-term loss.” The authority appealed directly to Israeli newsmen in the audience “to think of what I said of the long-term loss.”
(Diplomatic circles in Jerusalem said today that the Egyptian statements in Washington were nothing more than a reiteration of Cairo’s demand for an Israeli withdrawal in exchange for the possibility of negotiations. The circles said that Israel remained ready to negotiate with Egypt without prior conditions but not if a commitment to withdraw is demanded as a condition for talks.)
The source said that the US can continue to play a “tremendous role in bringing reason and sense to Israel.” Egypt, he said, “has not foreclosed on a United States role. We are still anxious to find a political solution to the Middle East crisis,” he said.
The same source, however, refused to consider face-to-face talks with the Israelis until their government accedes in advance to withdrawal to the June 4, 1967 lines, Israel, the source said, would “dictate” to Egypt in direct talks between them if Israel did not first agree to complete withdrawal. The Egyptian response came to questions by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s correspondent after the source said that “Egypt wants an honest peace with Israel.”
The high Egyptian source said that the US has not yet approached the Egyptians on proximity talks with Israel. He refused to commit himself to such talks for the time being. Israel two weeks ago announced that it would engage in such talks after it said it had received clarifications from the State Department on the American role in those talks. The Egyptian source insisted repeatedly that Israel must agree to complete withdrawal before any movement can be made towards any agreement.