JERUSALEM (Feb. 15)
Authoritative sources here denied any knowledge today of a purported Israeli plan for reopening the Suez Canal which President Nixon is supposed to convey to Moscow during his summit meeting with Soviet leaders next May. The report was carried by United Press International from London. The sources here said that no discussions on details of a possible Suez agreement took place in the recent talks between Israel and the United States. They said those talks were limited to procedures for initiating interim negotiations between Israel and Egypt with the US serving as mediator.
(According to the UPI dispatch, after basic approval by the US and the USSR, Israel and Egypt would agree to reopen the Suez Canal to international shipping. Both would pull back their forces on either side of the canal to a pre-arranged distance. The canal would be run by Egyptian civilians operating on both banks. Egyptian civilians evacuated from towns on the west bank of the canal would return to rebuild a normal life, the UPI said.)
Observers here noted today that neither the Israelis nor the Americans who participated in the bilateral talks over the past two months ever mentioned whether, or in what form. President Nixon might raise the Suez issue in Moscow. But observers noted that the points contained in the UPI London dispatch were more or less a summary of Israel’s position on a canal accord as stated publicly by Premier Golda Meir on several occasions. The formulation contained in the UPI dispatch is believed to be completely unacceptable to Cairo.