Rabin More Optimistic About Progress Toward Interim Accord

Premier Yitzhak Rabin, who returned to Israel before dawn today, was closeted with his Cabinet late this afternoon to report on his talks with Secretary of State Henry A, Kissinger in Bonn yesterday. Prior to the Cabinet session, Rabin briefed Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and Defense Minister Shimon Peres — his fellow members of Israel’s negotiating team — on the outcome of his talks with Kissinger.

(Kissinger, who returned to Washington tonight was due to report to President Ford tomorrow on his European trip which included talks with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in Geneva and with Premier Rabin in Bonn,)

Most observers here do not believe that any final decision will emerge from today’s Cabinet meeting with regard to an interim agreement with Egypt. The Premier told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport early this morning that he was now more optimistic than before that progress toward an interim settlement could be achieved. But he stressed that the negotiations could continue for a long time, “It may take two days, it may take half a year,” the Premier said.

NO PRESSURE ON TIME

He stressed in fact that there was no pressure of time being exerted on Israel. He said the U.S. agreed that the negotiations could not be conducted against a deadline that the “ultimatum atmosphere” of the past two weeks has faded and the talks can now proceed at a more leisurely pace. Sources here indicated that the July 24 expiration date for the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) is not regarded as a deadline for an interim accord and that Egypt is expected to agree to a renewal, although whether for another three months or six month term is not certain.

Moderate optimism was expressed in Bonn following Rabin’s three-hour meeting yesterday with Kissinger, American sources indicated that if clear progress is made within the next week or so, Kissinger may return to the Middle East before the end of this month or early in August. (See separate story.)

(Reports from Washington today said that the U.S., seeking to facilitate an interim agreement, was considering the possibility of American personnel to man the advance warning radar stations in Sinai after an Israeli withdrawal. But U.S. officials said there was no question of American troops being interposed between Israeli and Egyptian forces, The matter of surveillance is one of the major issues still to be resolved before an interim accord can be reached, Israel has made it clear that it preferred to retain the surveillance role and not rely on the U.S. or any third power.)

KISSINGER MAY RESUME SHUTTLE

Rabin told newsmen today that there were some indications that Egypt was prepared to shift some of its positions but it remained unclear whether its new positions would be acceptable to Israel. Meanwhile, it was learned that Ambassador Simcha Dinitz, who flew back with Rabin from Bonn, would return to Washington later this week with new instructions from the negotiating team. Contacts will now proceed through Washington and If they are successful Kissinger may resume the “shuttle” diplomacy he suspended last March to wrap up an accord, sources here said.

In a television interview taped in Bonn after his talks with Kissinger and broadcast here last night, Rabin said that Israel’s primary aim was to reach an “understanding” with the U.S. He said it was unrealistic to imagine that American aid to Israel was not linked to the political relationship between Washington and Jerusalem, Without the establishment of a political understanding with the U.S. in the future, there would be “no point” to an interim agreement, Rabin said.

He said that Israel would need an agreement with the U.S. to ease the economic burdens of a new pull-back in Sinai. He referred to an American undertaking to supply Israel with oil to compensate for the return of the Abu Rodeis oilfields to Egypt. He said that while it was an exaggeration to say that Israel would have to build a complete new airfield to replace the one at Rifidim from which it would withdraw, the re-deployment of Israeli forces would be costly and American help would be needed to finance it.

Rabin said on the taped interview that the European Security Conference at Helsinki scheduled for the end of this month should have no bearing on the situation in the Middle East, He was referring to expressions of concern by some officials that unless the interim negotiations are concluded before the Helsinki conference, the Soviet Union, having achieved its aims at Helsinki, would try to torpedo the American-orchestrated interim talks. Rabin said he believed that the Soviets did not wish to thwart an agreement if Egypt desired one and if it entailed an Israeli withdrawal.

After a five-hour Cabinet meeting it was decided to continue with the process of “clarifications.” (See separate story page 3).

NEXT STORY