WASHINGTON (Jan. 16)
Efforts to promote a warmer atmosphere in U.S.-Israeli relations appeared to envelop the intensive series of discussions Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon is holding with U.S. political leaders. The relationship has been cooling in the past few months with reports of American pressure on Israel to accommodate Arab demands although the Arabs themselves have been making no move towards meeting Israel’s needs.
An example of psychological conciliation appeared last night when Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger volunteered to newsmen after his first round of talks with Allon at the State Department that the United States was not exerting any pressure on Israel.
This led some analysts to remark that his saying so without being asked indicated that some pressure had been applied. They recalled President Ford’s remark in his interview in Time magazine that he would not give a U.S. guarantee to Israel before Israel made “some real progress” in negotiations with the Arabs. “Some real progress” continues unclarified and undefined.
Today an Israeli Embassy spokesman described the Allon talks with Kissinger as “very good, cordial and friendly” both in atmosphere and content. Another straw in the gentle breeze of improved relationship is that President Ford will see Allon this afternoon at the White House despite the President’s absorption in economic and energy problems and dealing with a new Congress. Ford also saw Allon when the Foreign Minister was here in early December.
SADAT ISSUES WARNING
President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, however, has put severe new pressure on Kissinger to come up with major concessions from Israel within the next three months, failing which Egypt would no longer rely on his diplomatic approach and would go to Geneva for a “show down.” Sadat’s views were contained in an interview published today in the Beirut newspaper An Nahar.
The Egyptian leader said he would accept from Israel nothing less than withdrawal of its forces on all three fronts within the next three months–meaning Sinai, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. “This year will be the decisive one, for the next–1976–is a year of elections in America,” Sadat was quoted as saying.
“If nothing is achieved soon, and very soon, we shall then go to Geneva, all of us, including the Palestinians, without whom there can be no Geneva or disengagement, and will have a show-down there,” Sadat said. He added that when the Geneva talks reconvened they would be decisive. “We do not want a few miles toward a disengagement but want it (Geneva) to be decisive and final.” Sadat was also quoted as warning that “if Israel attacks Syria, Egypt will immediately step in. America knows this, and it is assumed that Syria knows it,” he said.
Allon, asked for comment on Sadat’s statements, said he was for “quiet diplomacy. I am not going to make any statement.” Asked if he felt the Egyptian position was hardening, Allon replied. “If you take what they say literally, it is not too good. But I hope it isn’t the last word.” State Department spokesman Robert Anderson declined comment on the same “quiet diplomacy” grounds.
FEATURES OF ALLON’S VISIT
Among the features of Allon’s current visit is that he and Kissinger met alone for an hour yesterday evening. A favorite Kissinger device in a tight political situation is to obtain the inner thoughts of a guest in a long private conversation. Another was that a report was circulated that Allon proposed a withdrawal in the Sinai but would make no other for 10 years. This was flatly denied by an Israeli source. Israel, he said, would make another withdrawal under certain conditions but it would have to “last for some years”–not a specific time.
Allon’s extension of his stay to three days was not seen as of high significance. Kissinger’s own schedule was unable to accommodate the usual morning and afternoon meetings with the Israeli minister and therefore Allon was seeing him for shorter periods over more days. They met for slightly more than an hour this morning and will meet again at breakfast tomorrow for the last of their discussions.
Kissinger will go before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee behind closed doors shortly thereafter to discuss world affairs, particularly Soviet-American relations now that the Soviets have ruptured the 1972 trade agreement and threatened the extinction of detente, the threat to American allies in Cambodia and South Vietnam, and of course, the Middle East and oil.
In other meetings, Allon saw Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger this morning at the Pentagon, presumably on the flow of arms both to Israel and other countries in the Middle East and will meet a few representatives of the American Jewish community early tonight. Allon probably will depart for Israel immediately after breakfast with Kissinger tomorrow.
Meanwhile, it was learned that Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin and Allon spoke briefly at the Capitol yesterday where both were for President Ford’s State of the Union message. According to sources here, Dobrynin was passing Allon and asked to be introduced to him. They spoke for a few minutes and then went their ways. The content of the conversation has not yet been disclosed. Allon said today, however, that nothing substantive had been discussed.