JERUSALEM (Aug. 24)
Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and the Israeli negotiators met here tonight in the second round of U.S. Israeli shuttle talks for a new Sinai interim accord after a lengthy Cabinet session at which Premier Yitzhak Rabin and his team reported on progress to date on remaining issues for an agreement. Kissinger is scheduled to fly to Alexandria tomorrow for a second round of talks with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and then will return to Israel tomorrow night or Tuesday.
Informed sources said the most marked progress on outstanding issues had been made on the manning of Umm Hasheiba, the key surveillance station northwest of the Gidi Pass, with Egypt now reported to have agreed to Israeli operation, together with an American presence.
But the issue of Israel’s demand for an American presence at six other points in the Mitle and Gidi Passes remains unresolved, as does the issue of demarcation of the line of advance of Egyptian forces into areas to be evacuated by Israel. The line of the Israeli pullback is virtually approved except for a 300-meter zone on the east of the passes, the sources said.
NO NEW DECISIONS MADE
An official Cabinet communique said no new decisions were made at the session today and that the negotiating team of Rabin, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and Defense Minister Shimon Peres would continue the talks along the basic lines laid down by the Cabinet a week ago.
A communique issued by the Cabinet last Sunday said: “At its session today, the Cabinet gave its approval to the position of the ministerial team on the issues of an interim settlement, as it has been clarified to the government of the United States, including issues of importance on which agreement has not yet been reached. The Cabinet authorized the ministerial team to continue the negotiations in accordance with the positions approved by the Cabinet.”
According to the sources, hawkish Cabinet members, led by Religious Affairs Minister Yitzhak Rafael, proposed a resolution that Israel would make “no further concessions” but that was rejected, as was a dovish motion enjoining the negotiating team “to carry through the negotiations to a successful conclusion.” It appeared that a majority of the ministers preferred to refrain from making new decisions or adopting resolutions pending the outcome of a further round of shuttle diplomacy. A midweek Cabinet meeting has been tentatively set for Wednesday.
Kissinger started the new effort for an accord with a meeting of nearly five hours Friday with Israeli negotiators at Rabin’s home and said afterwards he was hopeful the new interim accord could be worked out soon. Allon said he felt “more hopeful” but that “it is still to early to say.”
RABIN REASSURES ISRAELIS
After the first round of talks in Jerusalem Kissinger flew to Alexandria for negotiations with Sadat on Friday and yesterday morning. He then flew to Damascus yesterday where he reportedly assured Syrian President Hafez Assad that Syria would not be left out of his Middle East peace efforts. Syria has demanded talks with Israel about the Golan Heights.
While Kissinger was shuttling to Alexandria and Damascus, Israeli leaders sought to reassure a restive Israeli population that a new interim accord would benefit Israel. Rabin spoke on a television appearance Friday night about the possibilities of a major change in the hostile relationships between Egypt and Israel, declaring that the proposed accord would include commitments by both countries to renounce the use or threat of force against each other. Rabin said the change in relationship “will not be hidden, but open, contractual and public.”
Kissinger’s meeting with Assad came a day after Syria and Jordan announced formation of a supreme command council to direct political, military and economic action against Israel. The new command council was announced in a joint communique issued at the end of a five-day state visit by Jordan’s King Hussein to Syria. It was noted that while the communique emphasized that the supreme council would direct military unification, there was no reference to a functioning joint military command.
(The first comment from the Palestine Liberation Organization on the latest round of shuttle diplomacy came in an interview in the Corriere Della Sera newspaper in Milan in which PLO head Yassir Arafat charged that Kissinger was ignoring the Palestinians in his current effort. Arafat said Kissinger “Ignores us, and does badly to do so, because we are the key to the problem.” He said it was the PLO and not “the other Arab states,” which can threaten Israel’s security “for years and years.”)
(President Ford, ending a working vacation at Vail, Colo., received yesterday a detailed report by cable from Kissinger but White House press secretary Ron Nessen said “at this stage it is better not to say anything,” when he was asked if Kissinger’s report indicated progress toward a new Sinai pact.)
KISSINGER VISITS YAD VASHEM
One of Kissinger’s first public acts after his arrival in Israel Thursday was to make a visit to Yad Vashem, the memorial in Jerusalem for the Jews murdered in the Nazi Holocaust. The act was considered an attempt by Kissinger to show Israelis that he understood their concerns about the proposed new accord with Egypt. When he left the memorial building, he stopped to look at a display of books about Hitler, Adolf Eichmann and the rise of Nazism.