JERUSALEM (Nov. 8)
Israel appeared today to accept in principle a formula proposed by U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to resolve immediate cease-fire problems and open the way for broader peace negotiations with the Arabs. While there was no official confirmation of the five-point formula submitted last night to Premier Golda Meir by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs Joseph J. Sisco, informed sources said the five points were: a permanent supply corridor through Israeli lines for the encircled Third Army under United Nations control: an immediate exchange of wounded prisoners of war to be followed by a general exchange of POWs; lifting of the Egyptian blockade of the straits of Bab el Mandeb; a demarcation of the cease-fire lines; and peace negotiations to follow if the first four conditions are honored.
A Cabinet source told the JTA today that he was “optimistic” that the war would not be resumed on the Suez Canal. At the same time, official sources indicated privately that the Kissinger plan was acceptable to Israel on the whole but that Israel was still seeking clarification on specific points. The sources did not spell out which specific points were involved. Israel’s reply to the Kissinger plan was given to Sisco by Mrs. Meir following a special Cabinet meeting late last night. Sisco. who arrived here unexpectedly with the Kissinger proposals, which were apparently accepted earlier in the day by President Anwar Sadat of Egypt during his meeting with Kissinger in Cairo, left today for Riad, Saudi Arabia to report to Kissinger who left Amman this morning to go to Saudi Arabia. Emerging from a 45-minute meeting with Premier Meir at her office last night, Sisco told reporters, “I am optimistic.”
Cabinet sources indicated today that Israel was pleased with the business-like approach which Sadat seemed to have demonstrated in his talks with Kissinger. Last night top Israeli officials expressed doubts whether Sadat would be amiable to proposals that Israel too could consider. Now it seems as if he surprised Israel with his realism. Before last night’s Cabinet meeting, Mrs. Meir invited Likud opposition leaders Menachem Beigin and Elimelech Rimalt to her office and relayed the content of the Kissinger plan to them with the request to keep it secret. Likud was due to meet today to discuss the situation. Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, speaking today at an Air force pilots’ graduation parade at an air base somewhere in Israel expressed hope that the cease-fire, which, he noted, has not yet been fully achieved but is about to stabilize, will not bring Israel to a state of stand-still but to the opening of lasting peace negotiations.
The latest developments in the fast-moving round of diplomatic activity in the Middle East began late yesterday with Sisco’s arrival here, accompanied by Harold Saunders, the director for Middle Eastern Affairs on the staff of the National Security Council in Washington. Both men had participated in Kissinger’s meetings with Sadat. Sisco had not been expected until after Kissinger completed his current tour of Arab capitals. But Mrs. Meir arranged to meet him immediately. Participating in the meeting were Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, Dayan and Foreign Minister Abba Eban who had only just returned from a three-day visit to Rumania. Another participant was Gen. Aharon Yariv, special assistant to the chief of staff and an advisor to Premier Meir who accompanied her on her recent trip to Washington. Sisco later met separately with Yariv.