TEL AVIV (May. 8)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban left for the United States today on a visit in behalf of the Israel Bond drive. He will also meet with high U.S. government officials for discussions of “matters of mutual interest” to Israel and the U.S., it was learned today. Eban told reporters at Lod Airport that he would discuss the problem of Arab terrorism among other topics in the framework of Israeli-U.S. relations.
Replying to questions, Eban said he would categorically oppose suggestions to establish committees of the United Nations to deal with the Middle East conflict. The Foreign Minister appeared to be alluding to last year’s fruitless UN debate, on international terrorism which ended with the appointment of a committee to study the matter. Reliable sources in Jerusalem told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Eban would discuss the forthcoming Security Council debate on the Middle East with U.S. Secretary of State William P. Rogers.
According to the sources, Israel does not expect the Council to alter its Resolution 242 but is concerned that a sufficient number of speakers will accept the Arab interpretation of that document in order to build up an authoritative body of interpretation unfavorable to Israel’s position. The Arab interpretation, which Israel rejects, is that the resolution calls for total withdrawal of Israeli forces from the administered Arab territories as a prerequisite for peace. Israel maintains that the resolution upholds the primacy of a peace settlement over territorial matters.
ARMS SUPPLY MAY BE AGENDA TOPIC
It was learned today that contacts have been made with Washington to determine exactly how far the U.S. would permit the Security Council to go before exercising its veto right. Jerusalem hopes that any one-sided condemnation of Israel or a move for sanctions would be promptly killed by an American veto.
Eban is also expected to discuss U.S. arms supplies to Israel. Sources in Jerusalem said they were generally satisfied with the situation following President Nixon’s commitment to Premier Golda Meir at their meeting last March in Washington that military supplies would continue to flow. Details are still being worked out by experts on both sides and Eban is expected to relate to these in his Washington talks.
Observers here differ over the effect of the ongoing Watergate scandal on U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Some circles feel that Watergate must necessarily overshadow any other business on the Nixon Administration’s agenda. But others believe that the Administration will deliberately concentrate on foreign affairs issues such as Middle East diplomacy in order to focus the public spotlight on issues other than Watergate.