JERUSALEM (Apr. 9)
Foreign Minister Yigal Allon will visit the United States next week to attend major fund-raising meetings of the United Jewish Appeal and has been invited by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to meet with him in Washington, informed sources disclosed here today. According to the sources, Kissinger, when informed that Allon would be in the U.S., immediately responded by asking him to set aside a day for a meeting with him in Washington.
(The State Department confirmed today that Allon would meet with Kissinger but did not announce the date of the meeting. Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz met with the Secretary of State three times in the past week in a move to ease the strains between Washington and Jerusalem that grew out of the failure of Kissinger’s Middle East mission last month.)
Sources here said that Allon would not be bringing any new ideas to Washington and noted that the Cabinet made no new decisions at its meeting here Sunday and that Israel stands firm on the offers it made to Egypt during the recent second-stage negotiations–all of which Cairo has rejected.
Allon’s visit to the U.S. and meeting with Kissinger follows a week of reports that American authorities had indicated to Jerusalem that it would not be opportune for top Israeli officials–Allon or Defense Minister Shimon Peres–to come to Washington at this time while the Administration was engaged in the reassessment of its Middle East policy, ordered by President Ford last month.
IMPORTANCE ATTACHED TO ALLON’S VISIT
Sources here said that Allon had been invited some time ago to attend the UJA rallies but hesitated to accept because of the state of relations between Washington and Jerusalem. They said the Minister did not want to “impose” himself upon Washington if he were not welcome there. But Dinitz’s reports of his latest meetings with Kissinger apparently indicated that Allon’s visit would not be unwelcome, and after consultation with Premier Yitzhak Rabin both decided that he should go to the U.S.
The fact that the Foreign Minister will be away from Israel when it celebrates its 27th Independence Day next Wednesday was an indication of the importance attached to Allon’s trip. While it was stressed here that Allon will bring no new Israeli proposals, the sources said he was expected to express certain new approaches that would test Egypt’s willingness to resume negotiations for an interim bilateral agreement with Israel.
Informed sources here noted that the unofficial campaign of some senior American officials blaming Israel for the breakdown of last month’s talks has been waning in recent days. The sources said that vigorous protests by Israel ultimately helped stem the flow of hints and leaks that the U.S. held Israel rather than Egypt responsible for the collapse of the talks that were suspended March 22.
Allon himself will doubtlessly ignore the unofficial campaign and will take cognizance only of the official public statements of Administration leaders disclaiming any intention to apportion blame for Kissinger’s failed mission.
ISRAEL’S PRESENT POSITION
Israel’s present position includes an offer to resume the bilateral negotiation at the point where they were broken off–with an Israeli offer to withdraw from the western half of the Mitle and Gidi Passes in Sinai in return for a limited Egyptian undertaking to forego the use of war to settle its dispute with Israel. There are presently no indications that Egypt is any more willing to consider this option now than it was last month–but this could change in time, sources here said.
Israel is also leaving open the option of a “broader” settlement in which Israel would make a major–though as yet undefined–territorial withdrawal in Sinai in exchange for a formal declaration of non-belligerency from Egypt.
The alternative to these options is resumption of the Geneva peace conference. But Israeli sources predict that Geneva almost certainly would end in deadlock unless it was preceded by a successful round of bilateral talks leading to a second-stage Israeli-Egyptian agreement. The sources note that there appears to be little enthusiasm in Cairo or Washington for a resumption of the Geneva talks now and that even the Soviet Union and Syria have not been pressing for Geneva quite as energetically as might have been expected.
In addition to addressing UJA rallies, Allon will address a meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations while he is in the U.S., it was reported here today.