TEL AVIV (Oct. 7)
A senior Western diplomatic source expressed the view today that the United States has legitimate interests in the Middle East which may not always coincide with Israel’s interests and may involve actions not to Israel’s liking, such as American arms supplies to Egypt. He said that Israeli leaders have come to recognize this fact which he termed an important development.
The source, defining American aims, said it included increasing American influence in the region and bringing about a commensurate decrease in Soviet influence while recognizing that it was impossible to totally exclude the Soviets from the Middle East. He added that an overall peace settlement required Soviet cooperation to achieve this objective.
The source indicated that American interests centered more on Egypt’s position than Syria’s. He was not optimistic about the possibility of Israeli-Syrian negotiations and observed that while the U.S. has pledged efforts to bring about such negotiations it made no commitments on the issue, and Arab voices at the United Nations and from Damascus were not encouraging.
The source said no one could predict what the Syrian attitude will be when the current term of the UN peace-keeping forces on the Golan Heights expires Nov. 30. But the source remarked that the Syrians have as much interest as Israel in not provoking a crisis in that region.
U.S. SUPPLIES TO EGYPT EXPLAINED
With regard to Egypt, the diplomatic source said it was understandable that Israel would not be happy over American arms supplies to Egypt but it would be better for Israel, in the long run if the U.S. gains influence in Cairo even through the supply of arms. The source said it was an unfortunate fact of life in the Middle East that influence is gained by supplying arms.
He said it did not seem logical that Egypt would become dependent solely on American arms supplies or that it would receive arms from the U.S. on the same scale as Israel. Nevertheless, the U.S. will give serious consideration to an Egyptian request for arms, the source stated.
The source expressed the view that Egyptian participation in a war between Israel and Syria would depend on which side started the war or appeared to have started it. If it is clear that Syria initiated the hostilities, Egypt may keep out. But there is a danger that even if Syria starts a war it may be claimed or presented as if Israel invited the war and in such a case Egypt might feel free to participate, the source said.
He added that Israel would be foolish to provide the Syrians with a pretext for the Egyptians to join them in battle. The source expressed regret that Jordan has been stripped of its influence by decision of the Arabs themselves at their recent summit meetings and expressed hope that Jordan might find a way to restore its position of influence.
ROLE OF U.S. TECHNICIANS ASSESSED
Referring to more immediate issues involving implementation of the new Israeli-Egyptian Sinai accord, the source said the passage of Israeli cargoes through the Suez Canal would probably coincide with implementation of the agreement. He said American technicians would supervise the functions of the Israeli surveillance station at Umm Hashieba and an Egyptian surveillance station yet to be built, and would operate an American surveillance station in the buffer zone between Israeli and Egyptian lines.
The source said there was no decision as to whether the American technicians would operate under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv or the Embassy in Cairo and that it was possible they would be administered directly from Washington. He said an agreement has been reached on the functions of American oil technicians now in Ras Sudar to ease the transition of the oil fields from Israeli to Egyptian hands.