JERUSALEM (Aug. 23)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban cabled congratulations to Secretary of State-designate Henry A. Kissinger today and expressed confidence that he would “make contributions to world peace” and continue the relationship of “mutual friendship and respect” between, the United States and Israel. Eban will meet with the new Secretary of State when he visits Washington in Oct.
There was no other official reaction here to President Nixon’s announcement yesterday that he has nominated Dr. Kissinger to succeed Secretary of State William P. Rogers who is retiring next month to return to private law practice. But official sources indicated that they did not expect any substantial changes in American Middle East policy-inasmuch as that policy was largely determined by the White House where Dr. Kissinger has served since 1969 as Nixon’s assistant on national security affairs.
That U.S. Middle East policy will remain consistent and “even-handed” was indicated on a television interview in New York yesterday by John Scalli, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN. Asked if a situation might emerge in which the U.S. simply must reconsider its position toward Israel Scali replied: “The basic American position in the Middle East, regardless of how many times we have supported Israel, is an effort to find a middle way, an effort to encourage both the Arabs and the Israelis to sit down in a meaningful dialogue, either directly or indirectly, to see whether or not this long-standing very bitter dispute can be resolved as a means of negotiations.”
MAY UNDERTAKE NEW INITIATIVES
There was speculation here, however, that yesterday’s hint by the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Scali, of possible new moves by Nixon to resolve the Middle East dispute was in some way linked to the Kissinger appointment. Some sources noted that Dr. Kissinger has not previously been involved in Middle East policy and, confronting the problem with a clean slate, may well undertake new initiatives.
Eban, in his message, praised Rogers for his “memorable service.” Rogers, though clearly overshadowed by Dr. Kissinger in the evolution of U.S. policies in Europe, Asia and other parts of the world, was himself directly involved in the Middle East situation. Rogers is credited for his initiative of 1970 which led to the cease-fire agreement, now entering its fourth year.
There was no official reaction to the Kissinger nomination from any of the Arab states. But reports today hinted at uneasiness in some Arab capitals over the fact that Dr. Kissinger is Jewish. (A report in the Los Angeles Times today said that Kissinger’s body guard has been doubled in recent weeks due to threats against him, some of them from Arab terrorist groups.)