JERUSALEM (Nov. 8)
Israel greeted the re-election of President Nixon today with calm confidence that his administration’s record of support for Israel will continue through his new term. Ministers and senior officials stressed that US policy in the Mideast has been successful to date – why then should Washington want to change it? It is to persuade Washington of the cogency of this argument that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, Deputy Premier Yigal Allon and Foreign Minister Abba Eban will be coming to the US in the next few weeks.
Jerusalem officials tend to discount the pessimism of pundits and soothsayers who insist that now the election is over the administration will bring pressure to bear on Israel to move to-wards a peace agreement against its own wishes. Some pundits here have argued that only the Middle East has so far escaped the sweep of Nixon’s peace-making crusade, and that now his attention will be shifted to this part of the world.
The same pundits read as much into US Secretary of State William P. Rogers’ television interview of last Sunday. A leading cartoonist on Monday showed Nixon marching to the ballot box waving an Israeli flag with Rogers marching behind him with a flag bearing the figures 242 (Security Council Resolution 242). “No idiot, that’s tomorrow,” is the caption in Nixon’s mouth.
NO SIGNS THAT WASHINGTON WILL BETRAY ISRAEL
Qualified observers do not subscribe to these fears. They say that there are no signs that Washington intends to betray a central plank in its Mideast policy to date: the need for direct negotiations. They note that Rogers made a point of this in his television Interview. They admit, of course, that Washington’s diplomatic activity is likely to increase now – “a big power cannot sit by and wait for events, it must be in on the ground floor,” one official here noted.
But this activity they feel will be limited to helping the parties themselves if and when one or both of them shows a change in its position. No such change is yet apparent here or in Cairo. There have been no signs from Washington that the US will seek to impose a settlement, the Israeli sources stress -nor, with the Russians out of Egypt and the cease-fire being maintained, is there any need for such drastic action from Washington’s viewpoint, they add hopefully.
One source here summed up the scare mongering and panicky reaction to the Rogers’ interview by comparing them to the lawyer who received a cable from his partner fighting a case in another town: “Justice triumphed.” The lawyer cabled back: “File an appeal at once.” Thus, Rogers spoke of negotiations – which Israel has always said it wants; of a partial settlement – to which Israel subscribes; and of the need to implement Resolution 242 – which Israel interprets as not inimical to her interests and desires.
The atmosphere in Jerusalem, then, is one of realization that the period of diplomatic quiescence in the Mideast may be at an end. This is coupled with optimism that there will be support and not pressure out of Washington.