JERUSALEM (Nov. 3)
The Cabinet devoted most of its session today to what was described as a first appraisal of the results and possible consequences of the Arab summit meeting in Rabat. It was clear, however, that the government will reach no final conclusions until it learns from Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger what transpired at his latest meetings with Arab leaders and in other Arab-American diplomatic contacts. The Secretary, who is in Bucharest today, announced that he would go to Cairo on Tuesday after addressing the World Food Conference in Rome and then visit Saudi Arabia, Jordan. Syria and Israel. It will be his second trip to the Middle East in less than a month.
A joint communique issued at the close of Kissinger’s talks with the Shah of Iran in Teheran yes- terday “reaffirmed the determination of the United States to press its efforts to help maintain the momentum of the negotiations begun earlier this year” in the Middle East. The view here is that Kissinger will make a major effort to salvage the dimming prospects of further Israeli-Arab peace talks.
The Cabinet is reportedly anxious to learn from the Secretary what secret resolutions may have been adopted at Rabat, secret resolutions being almost a tradition of any Arab conclave. The appraisal here is that the chances of an Israeli-Jordan dialogue in the foreseeable future have been virtually ruled out by the Rabat decision to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.
But Israeli observers believe that the fact that Kissinger plans to return to the region indicates that he still has hopes of launching further Israelis-Egyptian negotiations. Syria and the PLO are known to be exerting severe pressure on President Anwar Sadat of Egypt not to engage in another round of separate negotiations with Israel When Kissinger arrives here he is expected to know whether their efforts have succeeded.
REPORT ARABS REJECTED KISSINGER’S APPROACH
The situation was further clouded by the increasingly belligerent stance taken by the PLO fresh from their Rabat triumph. Yasir Abed Rabbo, chief on the PLO’s information office in Beirut, called on the Arab states yesterday to girl themselves economically and militarily for a new war with Israel. He said there was no hope for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East conflict and dismissed as “sheer nonsense” a four-point plan for further peace moves attributed to Secretary Kissinger.
According to the PLO spokesman, the Kissinger approach was rejected outright by the Arab chiefs of state in Rabat. He said the proposals included a limited Israeli withdrawal from Sinai in exchange for non-belligerence; a settlement with Jordan that would give King Hussein administrative control over West Bank towns while Israel retained military control of the region; minor withdrawals by Israel from the Golan Heights; and a resolution by the Arab oil producing states to reduce the price of oil.
Kissinger on his part has described as “none-sense” recent press reports that he anticipated a major change in the U.S. policy toward the PLO. According to the report that emanated from Washington last week, the U.S. was prepared to accept the PLO as a participant in future negotiations.
NO TALKS WITH TERROR GROUPS
Meanwhile, the Israeli position remains adamant. Premier Yitzhak Rabin told a meeting of the Israel Management Center in Tel Aviv Friday that his government will never deal with the PLO “even if they are masked as Husseinis.” He declared that if the Arab leaders decide that Jordan can no longer be a party to the Geneva peace conference, “then there is no one to speak to about peace on our eastern border.” Rabin stated: “The Israeli attitude is clear and set: No negotiations with the terror organizations.”
He said that while Israel must be prepared for any emergency. it would continue to search for peace. “but not at any price.” He cautioned against idle speculation as to when the next war will break out in the Middle East. “All those who in the past made predictions were wrong,” Rabin said. He stressed, however, that the military-political situation facing Israel was very serious and took precedence over both the nation’s economic troubles and the problems of absorbing new immigrants.
In a related development. Israeli circles expressed some surprise yesterday over the speedy defection of some of Hussein’s supporters on the West Bank in the wake of the Rabat summit meeting. A number of West Bank notables regarded as ardently pro-Hussein, added their signatures to a petition supporting the PLO. One of the signers was Hikmat el-Masri of Nablus, a former speaker of the Jordanian parliament. The Israeli military government was reportedly considering placing restrictions on the movement of West Bankers supporting the PLO. Up to now they have been allowed to move freely between Nablus. Hebron. Gaza. Beirut and Amman.
Meanwhile Mapam, Rabin’s partner in the governing Labor Alignment, called on the government yesterday to negotiate with any Palestinian body that would agree to recognize Israel’s existence and cease all terrorist activity against Israel. But the party center rejected a proposal supporting negotiations with the PLO.