Menu JTA Search

Waldheim’s Mideast Trip Seen As Step to Break Deadlock

Now that the Security Council’s general–and fruitless–review of the situation in the Middle East has ended as another zero in the ledger of history, as far as resolving the crisis is concerned, new hopes for some positive action are emerging. The focus now is on the upcoming trip of Secretary General Kurt Waldheim to the Middle East.

Why is he going to the Middle East? What is he going to bring with him? Does he have a new message or a new plan to offer the governments of Egypt. Israel and Jordan? According to a UN spokesman, the main objective of Waldheim’s Middle East visit is “to make direct contact with the governments concerned to discuss the current situation with them and to gain a first-hand impression of the problems of the area.” The spokesman also contended that Waldheim “does not intend to present specific proposals regarding the Middle East problem” during his visit.

Observers here believe, however, that Wald-heim’s visit will lay the groundwork for a new plan to unfreeze the Middle East situation. The Secretary General, they say, will submit recommendations to the General Assembly when it meets Sept. 18. That is one of the reasons why the trip is scheduled to take place before the opening of the Assembly. “Waldheim is going to the Middle East to study the situation, not to solve it on the spot,” one Middle East expert said here.

WELCOMED BY THE GOVERNMENTS

The trip, at Egypt’s invitation and with the acquiescence of Israel and Jordan, is welcomed by the three governments. But Egypt needs the visit by the Secretary General most of all. The result of the Middle East debate, which was initiated by Egypt, only increased Egypt’s need for such a visit because the Egyptian government has to show activity toward ending the stalemated situation of Israeli occupation. Egypt knows that time works against it and is searching for any step that might bring a change in the situation it considers “intolerable.”

As far as Israel is concerned, Waldheim’s visit will be fruitful if it contributes even a little toward negotiations with the Arabs. After the American veto in the Security Council, Israel’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement that reads in part: “The gates to negotiations between Israel and Egypt are wide open and it is to be hoped that Egypt, which initiated this sterile debate, will now study the need for negotiations.” Israel is adamant on negotiations and this was stated over and over by Israel’s Ambassador to the UN. Yosef Tekoah, during the two-and-a-half month debate. In a way Waldheim–who will come to Israel from an Arab country–will be involved in what some observers term a sort of negotiation.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned that Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring will not accompany Wald-heim on his trip. Observers here say that this is an indication that the Secretary General wants to learn the situation “through his own eyes” The question looming large now is whether or not Waldheim’s trip will end up in the same way as did the mission of Dr. Jarring–in a dead heap.

Eartha Kitt yesterday accepted a Sylva Zalmanson medallion from the “35 Committee” in London.

NEXT STORY