WASHINGTON (Oct. 22)
“Nobody here knows what it means,” a high State Department official said today hours after the Security Council voted early this morning to accept a resolution calling for a cease-fire and concurrent negotiations. “We don’t have a clue when the negotiations will take place, or where, or whether the Arabs and Israelis will meet face to face or discuss through a third party and, who this party will be,” the official noted. “There never has been a time when our knowledge of the Middle East was more tightly controlled than now,” he explained to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
The official said that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who was in Israel today conferring with that nation’s leaders, is reporting directly to the President and for the time being the White House is not likely to divulge what Kissinger is reporting. State Department officials who are usually highly knowledgeable confessed today that the Security Council resolution was vague and ambiguous because it calls for the implementation of Resolution 242, the very resolution whose wording has never been interpreted in the same way by the Arabs and Israelis.
However, officials felt more optimistic about the prospects for Mideast peace than before the U.S. and Soviet Union reached an agreement on a joint resolution. “At least Israel and Egypt agreed to a cease-fire.” the State Department official said. He and other officials noted that one of the elements in the resolution was to let passions cool before actual negotiations begin. In addition, the U.S. and USSR were able to keep detente intact and to avoid a military confrontation in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, swift Congressional approval of President Nixon’s request for $2.2 billion to pay for the cost of resupply of weaponry to Israel was indicated even before the Presidential message reached the Capital Friday. The President’s message asked for the supplemental appropriation to be provided under the Defense Procurement Act in which, under terms of the current law spear-headed by Sen. Henry M.Jackson (D.Wash.), he has unlimited authority to provide assistance to Israel. The President’s message called for the appropriation to include grants and loans to Israel but there was no breakdown of the amounts for them, the White House said.