JERUSALEM (Jan. 13)
The Israeli government authorized Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger today to present the Egyptian government a plan for the disengagement of forces at the Egyptian front. In addition, the Cabinet informed Kissinger that Israel was willing to negotiate a similar disengagement of forces with Syria if it submits a list of Israeli prisoners of war and al lows the Red Cross to visit them. The Cabinet reached this decision shortly after noon today following an almost non-stop round of meetings that began Saturday night when Kissinger arrived in Jerusalem. Premier Golda Meir was confined to bed with a viral infection and did not meet with Kissinger or participate in the Cabinet deliberations. (See separate story)
Kissinger left Jerusalem for Cairo tonight but is expected back in Jerusalem by tomorrow afternoon. The Secretary told reporters after his meetings that the talks here were conducted in the characteristically friendly fashion, and that he would present the Israeli ideas to President Anwar Sadat “to bring about the objectives which both sides seem to seek.” The plan Kissinger was taking to Egypt was worked out by a group of senior American and Israeli officials who sat through the night to formulate a detailed plan. Senior American and Israeli sources said that the ideas outlined to Kissinger by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan last weekend were not sufficiently specific to elicit a hard response from Sadat when Kissinger discussed them with him Saturday. However, the Israelis received the impression from Kissinger that Sadat’s initial response was sufficiently positive, to war rant an all out effort by both sides to reach specific and concrete agreement.
Following the Cabinet meeting, Kissinger met at the Premier’s office once again for close to an hour with Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Dayan. Following that meeting, Allon told reporters the plan which would be presented to Egypt by Kissinger was one that took into account, with all fairness, the interests of both sides. “I believe that only an agreement that would serve the interests of both sides, has the prospects of being accepted,” he said, but would not elaborate on its details. He also would not say whether Israel was making concession with regard to the thinning out of Egyptian forces on the east bank of the Suez Canal. “We are not playing tactics. We are trying to achieve a very serious agreement which would make the cease-fire more solid and open new vistas for a peace settlement,” Allon said. He added that be was now more optimistic than he was two weeks ago, but then again “the difficulties still exist.” He said there were good chances for an agreement, but only if the other side also shows good will.
KNESSET WILL PROVIDE FULL DETAILS TO NATION BEFORE ANYTHING IS SIGNED
Allon said no connection was made in the talks with Kissinger between disengagement and an overall settlement. “We stated that the disengagement of forces was a target per se, and it is obvious that the cease-fire would continue, alongside with serious peace talks.” he said. The Israeli delegation brought up the cease-fire violations by both Syria and Egypt. “in the most severe manner.” It also demanded the return of Israeli dead that remained in enemy territory. Allon said that disengagement, if achieved, would not come in place of the Geneva talks but would “prepare the ground for more fruitful talks in Geneva.”
Kissinger’s visit was to have begun with a dinner at the Premier’s home, but because of her illness the dinner was transferred to the King David Hotel, where Allon acted as host. Kissinger nevertheless visited Mrs. Meir at her home accompanied by the Israeli Ambassador to the.U.S., Simcha Dinitz. Earlier, Eban firmly denied that Israel had previously formulated a detailed plan for disengagement of forces with Egypt, or that Dayan presented such a plan for disengagement of forces to Kissinger at their talks last weekend.
Eban told a television audience that the government had worked out only “general ideas” — Dayan discussed those ideas with the Secretary of State. There was “a great deal of work still to be done” in order to translate these ideas into a concrete and detailed plan, he said. Eban agreed that Kissinger seemed to have thought the Israeli ideas a serious basis for discussion with Egypt and he noted that Egypt agreed to the Secretary’s visit knowing that those ideas would be a basis for discussion. Eban did not go into details of a possible Israeli pullback. “since the government itself had not yet gotten down to specifics.” He promised that before Israel signed anything the government would provide the Knesset and the nation with full details.