No Response from Egypt to Recent ‘conciliatory’ Israeli Statements

There has been no “positive” response from Egypt to recent “conciliatory” statements and “signals” from the Israeli capital, authoritative sources here report. Israel, they say, had hoped that Egypt’s ouster of Soviet personnel would be followed naturally by a greater Egyptian readiness to talk peace, but divisions within his administration and disappointment at the development of relations with the Soviets seem to have prevented any peace moves on the part of President Anwar Sadat.

Sources here point to three separate “signals” from Israel in recent weeks: Premier Golda Meir’s Knesset speech July 26, Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s press conference Aug. 7 and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s television interview Aug. 15. All three, the sources say, held out prospects for negotiations on either an interim or an overall settlement, Dayan in particular stressing that the time was ripe for a partial settlement reopening the Suez Canal.

The Israeli press, inspired by official encouragement, played up Dayan’s statement as an important “signal” complementary to what it termed the conciliatory and respectful tone of Premier Meir’s address. Egypt-watchers here detect two schools of thought in Cairo.

TWO SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT

The first is comprised of inveterate “Russia-haters,” with A1 Ahram editor Mohamed Hassanein Heykal as their spokesman. They are well-pleased with the Soviet ouster and urge an even wider breach with the Russians. Heykal’s revelation two weeks ago that five Soviet planes were shot down by Israel in one minute in 1970 is seen as obviously intended to embarrass and discredit the Soviets, suggesting they were ousted not only because they refused to provide enough weapons but because they were “no good.” The second school, comprised of left-leaning elements, is less happy about the Soviet ouster and wary of the future, preferring Nasserist neutrality to open conflict with Moscow.

Sadat himself, it is believed in Jerusalem, had planned to drive out some of the Soviet advisors and then deal with Moscow from a position of strength, but was thrown out of gear by the Kremlin’s refusal to play along. The letter Sadat received last week from Soviet Communist Party leader Leonid I. Brezhnev rejected his suggestion for a summit meeting between himself and the Soviet leaders. The Russians seem also to have pulled out more of their soldiers and airmen than Sadat had bargained for.

At this stage, it is still unclear what Egypt is planning for the UN General Assembly next month. Egypt could, of course, secure with ease another anti-Israel vote, but officials in Jerusalem say already that it would be as ineffective as the one last year blaming Israel for the breakdown of the Jarring mission. The General Assembly is not expected to reverse Security Council Resolution 242 of Nov. 22,1967, and as long as that resolution remains valid both sides can continue to claim that their positions are in accord with the UN’s decision.

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