JERUSALEM (Sep. 28)
Hope was expressed here today that the meeting last Wednesday in New York between Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko will pave the way for more regular contacts between Israel and the Soviet Union. While officials here are wary of referring to an actual renewal of Israeli-Soviet diplomatic ties in the near future, they openly hope for more and more frequent contacts at high official or diplomatic level. The Cabinet today heard a report of the Allon meeting from Premier Yitzhak Rabin. Sources said later the fact the meeting had been held was its most important aspect, Content-wise, it had not broken much new ground, these sources added.
Gromyko and Allon met for three hours at the Soviet Mission to the United Nations and reportedly discussed all aspects of the Mideast situation. The meeting was initiated by Allon, who is also Deputy Premier, and arranged by Chaim Herzog, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN. (The Soviet press has not yet reported on this meeting, nor has there yet been any official reaction in Washington.)
EARLIER MEETINGS RECALLED
Several meetings have taken place between Israeli and Soviet officials since the USSR broke diplomatic relations with Israel during the Six-Day War. One such meeting, it was recalled, took place Dec. 21, 1973 between Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Gromyko when both were at the Geneva peace conference following the Yom Kippur War. The two officials met for 80 minutes and sources described the meeting as cordial and frank.
It was noted at the time that Eban and Gromyko agreed to have further meetings on a regular basis but this did not occur again. Eban, at a press conference after the meeting, implied that it had been prearranged. Several meetings were also reported to have taken place during the last two years between Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin in Washington.
DIVISION OVER IMMINENT MIDEAST MOVES
Meanwhile, high sources here were divided today in their predictions of imminent Mideast moves, Some believed–as the Mideast News Agency reported Saturday–that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger would try a feeler mission to the area next month to promote Israel-Syria talks. Others, however, felt a Kissinger visit so soon was unlikely. They felt that the U.S., like Israel, will prefer to enjoy the fruits of the Sinai agreement–with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat due to visit Washington next month and sure of a warm welcome–before pressing ahead into the next complex of problems.
But there is a broad feeling here that ongoing inaction will not be tolerated for very long and that the diplomatic momentum will be renewed before the year’s end–whether by another shuttle-type effort or through the “informal conference” which Kissinger suggested at the UN General Assembly last week. There is no firm reaction to this Kissinger suggestion here. Officials say they with to study it further, especially since the Secretary himself has not apparently refined the suggestion beyond the stage of initial idea.
The assessment here is that he made the suggestion in order to avoid a situation in which Israel-Syria talks become the only possible option for averting deadlock in the Mideast. The informal conference would present another option, a broadening of the possibilities, and thereby a backstop in the event that Golan talks fall to get off the ground.