JERUSALEM (Jul. 8)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin will meet with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger in Germany on Saturday, it was announced here and in Washington simultaneously this evening. Sources here said the Premier hoped to hear from Kissinger Egypt’s responses to Israel’s latest set of questions transmitted Monday through Ambassador Simcha Dinitz.
The announcement of the meeting, a subject of speculation here for some time, coincided with a shift in Jerusalem towards a noticeably more upbeat atmosphere in the last few days. The feeling of crisis and imminent confrontation with the U.S. has perceptibly abated and there is, in addition, a widespread feeling that an interim settlement with Egypt will ultimately be achieved.
The Likud opposition, in conjunction with the “Emunim” bloc, is planning a mass rally in Tel Aviv next Monday against withdrawing from the Sinai passes and the Abu Rodeis oilfields. But Likud politicians admitted privately that it seemed the government was now inclined to conclude the agreement with the oilfields to be ceded in toto and only a marginal Israeli presence at the passes’ eastern entrances.
The Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, has “vigorously denied” a BBC report by its Jerusalem correspondent, Michael Elkins, that an agreement with Egypt has already been concluded in principle, Elkins’ report spoke of an Israeli presence at the eastern ends of the Mitle and Gidi Passes and said that American personnel would man the electronic advance warning system on the heights overlooking the passes once an interim agreement was achieved.
According to Elkins, the alleged agreement in principle called for an Egyptian civilian administration in the areas evacuated by Israel and a moderation of Egypt’s economic boycott and diplomatic warfare against Israel. But a Foreign Ministry spokesman declared today that the report was “mistaken as regards both its overall content and many of its details.” The spokesman stressed that the talks were “still in the stage of clarifications” and “an agreement is under no circumstances to be viewed as a fait accompli.”
REPORT DENIED IN WASHINGTON, CAIRO
(In Washington this morning, State Department spokesman Robert Anderson who announced the Kissinger-Rabin meeting in Bonn July 12 declined to comment on the report that Americans would man the Sinai surveillance posts. As for the BBC broadcast, Anderson noted the Israeli denial and said “we agree with the denial.”)
In Cairo, Foreign Minister Ismail Fahmy denied the BBC report and insisted that Egypt’s position had not changed. Informed sources in Jerusalem said Israel had in fact urged Kissinger, in the latest exchange through Dinitz, to seek Egypt’s agreement to some Israeli presence in the eastern ends of the passes and to a satisfactory arrangement on the problem of the surveillance stations which, they said, would include American personnel in at least some of the advance-warning posts.
These sources felt that if Kissinger presented positive responses from Egypt to Rabin on Saturday, the Premier would have little difficulty in winning Cabinet approval Sunday for the settlement terms as now defined. If, however, the Egyptians remained adamantly insistent on their demand for Israel’s complete and total evacuation of the passes, the sources said, then the issue was by no means certain in the Cabinet and Israel might still reject the settlement terms.
CAUTIONS AGAINST SPECULATION
Prior to his departure for West Germany today on the first official visit ever made to that country by an incumbent Israeli Premier, Rabin cautioned newsmen not to speculate that an agreement was close at hand and said it was not yet certain that one would be achieved. He also indicated that, at the moment of his departure from Israel, he was still not sure that he would be meeting with Kissinger. He said that if such a meeting did materialize, he would discuss with Kissinger several aspects of the problems involved in an interim accord with Egypt. He made the statement before it was officially announced that he would meet with Kissinger.
Prior to his departure for Germany, Rabin convened the special ministerial team that is conducting negotiations for an interim agreement with the U.S. serving as intermediary. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon reported on yesterday’s meeting in Washington between Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz and Kissinger immediately on the envoy’s return to the U.S. from Israel.
In brief remarks before boarding the plane, the Premier said: “I am leaving today for Germany with mixed feelings. As a Jew and an Israeli I am aware of the horrible tragedy that overtook our Jewish people, a tragedy for which Nazi Germany was responsible. Yet I am aware that bridges have to be bridged over the past so that the future would be brighter.” Rabin was seen off by Cabinet members, the Chief of Staff, Chief of Police and other officials.