NEW YORK (Jan. 17)
Secretary of State William P. Rogers made an almost prayerful appeal to Israelis and Arabs tonight to enter into some kind of “a genuine, meaningful negotiating process, direct or indirect,” to achieve peace in the Middle East.
In a speech prepared for delivery at a farewell dinner to Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin of Israel at the Hotel Pierre, Rogers said the United States was “convinced that both Arabs and Israelis want a settlement” based on the Security Council’s Resolution 242 and that “the doors of diplomacy remain open.”
Rogers said that “The most realistic approach” would be to negotiate an interim Suez Canal agreement which would be “not the end of the process but a first decisive step facilitating negotiations to carry out Resolution 242 in its entirety.” The dinner honoring Rabin was sponsored by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
In his own remarks prepared for delivery tonight, addressed directly to Rogers, Rabin praised the Secretary of State for his initiative which brought about the present Middle East cease-fire. He termed the cease-fire “the central factor that has dominated the Middle East in a positive way since Aug. 1970.”
Jacob Stein, chairman of the Presidents Conference, in his prepared speech, called for a crash program along the lines of the “Manhattan Project” to develop alternative sources of energy so that the U.S. will not become “dependent on the oil producing countries of the Middle East.”
RESPONSIBILITY TO FUTURE GENERATIONS
Rogers’ speech, though delivered to a Jewish and Israeli audience, appeared to be addressed to the Arab states as much as to Israel. Inasmuch as Israel has already accepted in principal the U.S. call to negotiate an interim Suez accord, that portion of Rogers’ remarks appeared to observers to be directed specifically to Egypt.
Referring to President Nixon’s public statement that he gives the highest priority to finding a Middle East settlement. Rogers declared: “We will be active in ascertaining if and how we can help the parties initiate a general negotiating process.” He described the bonds between the U.S. and Israel and the U.S. and “many of the Arab states” as “excellent.”
Appealing to the leaders of the Middle East to recognize their obligations to future generations, Rogers said, “Our era must hand on the settlement of peace” that will “take into account the interests of Israel, of the Arab states and of the Palestinians as well.”
Rogers said that “a decision to enter negotiations does not require changes in objectives or policies. Negotiations only require a willingness to look for solutions and to seriously and thoughtfully consider positions of mutual accommodations.” Addressing Rabin, Rogers said that as “one who understands this country and knows American policies and aspirations at first hand, you carry with you the same sense of purpose that we feel–that-every opportunity to overcome the Middle East impasse must be seized upon in 1973 in a spirit of equity, and with forward-looking determination to make concrete progress toward a permanent peace in the Middle East.”
Rabin said in his remarks that Rogers’ cease-fire initiative “was summed up in one sentence: ‘Stop shooting and start talking.'” He said that “Although the second part of this formula, that of negotiations, has not been achieved, it is still true that the cessation of hostilities remains the most hopeful development in the direction of peace that has been achieved in the Middle East.”
ALTERNATIVE TO OIL POLICY URGED
Stein, in his remarks observed that within ten years the U.S. “will be importing one-third of our oil from Persian Gulf area states.” He continued that if this situation is permitted to develop “the foreign policy of our country will be under great pressure to support the political policies of oil-producing states. We feel that now is the time to undertake under forced draft a ‘Manhattan Project’ for research and development into the production of alternate energy sources, nuclear, solar and geothermal.”
From the environmental point of view. Stein observed, “the increased use of polluting fossil fuels is not desirable, from the political point of view, a high degree of dependence for our energy on the oil-producing states could produce disastrous results.” He added that “it is in America’s best interests to insure the military capability and economic viability of Israel, a strong, a self-reliant, a trusted friend and ally of the United States.”