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Careful Reaction to Kissinger’s Informal Conference Idea

Jerusalem reacted carefully to the proposal advanced yesterday at the UN General Assembly by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger that an informal conference be called to discuss Mideast peace. There was obviously some embarrassment here at the fact that Israel had not been informed in advance of the details of the Secretary’s idea–and indeed those details have still not been transmitted to Israel. Officials said they are awaiting the breakfast meeting tomorrow in New York between Kissinger and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon to ascertain a fuller picture of what the Secretary has in mind.

It seemed clear that the government here had been taken somewhat unaware by the speech and had not yet developed a hard policy line towards it. Officials said Israel had been told in advance of the general outline of the Secretary’s proposal. They indicated that there had not been enough time, however, for a full exchange of views on the proposal between Israel and Washington before the speech was delivered.

Observers noted that this process hardly accorded with the understanding, repeatedly stressed by government ministers here in defense of the interim agreement, that following the agreement the U.S. and Israel would coordinate their political positions. Kissinger’s speech did not seem to bear out the Israeli expectations, observers noted–and hence their embarrassment and anxiety.

Some political observers here believe Kissinger’s aim is to “take the heat” off President Anwar Sadat by switching the focus of Mideast interest from the Sinai accord to some novel idea for a future multi-participant conference. Kissinger is know to be concerned at the heavy pressure from Arab hard-liners to which Sadat has been subjected since the Sinai accord was signed early this month.

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