UNITED NATIONS (Oct. 31)
The suddenness with which Premier Golda Meir’s visit to Washington was arranged and announced has led observers to wonder whether something untoward, some special crisis, had occurred in communications between Jerusalem and Washington. Officials here all firmly deny this, Apparently, the Premier is going to see President Nixon not because of any one incident –but rather because of the whole trend of the U.S.-Israel dialogue in recent days. Mrs. Meir hinted on her “Face The Nation” interview Sunday that she had some cause for concern about “things that have happened over the past few days.”
The trend is of U.S. pressure on Israel and Israeli concessions. The pressure is not intense as yet, and the concessions are not vitally harmful to Israel’s interests. But the Premier wants to see where this is leading to:on what issues Nixon would rather press Israel than confront the USSR; to what extent Israel can look to U.S. support in the hard political obstacle course that lies ahead. If there is to be a head-on collision with Washington she wants to be appraised of it as early as possible, and to make an advance effort to head it off.
Departing for Washington from Lod Airport this morning, Mrs. Meir made only a short statement praising the U.S. for proving its friendship in hard times–as opposed to some others who were only fair-weather friends. But, she said, there would be problems and questions arising now which she wished to examine with the President in the friendliest and frankest possible way. She refused to answer questions saying she hoped to have more to say when she returned. At Lod to see her off were Cabinet ministers and the Chief Rabbis. Before leaving she spent 15 minutes in conversation with Foreign Minister Abba Eban and U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Keating.
Sources here are saying that Mrs. Meir wants to talk with Nixon about the various still unresolved problems of the cease-fire but not, at least at her initiative, problems of a long-range settlement. Primary among the cease-fire issues is the prisoner of war question which seems to be moving slowly towards solution in Egypt–but not at all in Syria. Both Nixon and U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger undertook last week to press this issue with the USSR. There is reason to believe that what progress that has been made in Cairo was through Soviet pressure on its Egyptian client.
The Israeli Premier is also expected to seek reassurances that there was no “secret deal” made between Washington and Moscow regarding a long-term Mideast settlement. It is also believed she will want information about on-going Washington-Cairo contacts–including the long Kissinger-Fahmi conversations. Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s statement in Cairo today that the U.S. position was “constructive” cannot have added to her peace of mind on that score. She is also interested in U.S. arms supplies to redress the power balance. The cost factor is important here and Israel will seek some sort