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Eban: No Reason to Be Horrified by Disclosures in Sheehan’s Article

The former Foreign Minister of Israel, Abba Eban, said here today that the United States had vetoed proposals for Israel’s full withdrawal to its pre-June, 1967 borders though it had never supported major changes in those borders.

Eban made that assertion to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in the course of comments about the article in “Foreign Policy” magazine by Harvard Fellow Edward R. F. Sheehan who claimed that Presidents Nixon and Ford in 1974-75 had “secretly assured” Arab leaders that the U.S. favored an Israeli withdrawal to its 1967 lines.

Eban said he saw no reason to be horrified by the disclosures of U.S. policy made by Sheehan in an article favorably describing Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s diplomatic moves in the Middle East. (See JTA Daily News Bulletin of March 8 for full report on Sheehan’s article) He said the main novelty of Sheehan’s article was Kissinger’s reported private comments about Middle East personalities–some of them unflatter- ing. Such conversations tended to occur in mediation missions of the kind conducted by Kissinger, Eban told the JTA.

The former Foreign Minister who is a member of the Knesset, is visiting here for a series of Jewish communal engagements and meetings with British leaders. He met with Prime Minister Harold Wilson for 45 minutes this morning at No. 10 Downing Street. The private meeting at Wilson’s invitation, is believed to have covered Middle East affairs in general. Eban is scheduled to meet other members of the Labor government tomorrow and will be the luncheon guest of Israeli Ambassador Gideon Rafael.

He will go to Vienna from London to represent Israel’s Labor Party at the Congress of Austria’s governing Social Democratic Party. Tunisian and Egyptian Socialists have been invited to attend the party conference by Austrian Chancellor Bruno Kreisky as have been Swedish Premier Olof Palme and former West German Chancellor Willy Brandt.

ISRAEL SHOULD MEET WITH ANY ARAB FACTOR

In his comments to the JTA, Eban said he could not understand why some Israelis objected to the formula proposed by Aharon Yariv whereby Israel would be ready to meet with any Arab factor, including Palestinians. Such a policy would throw the responsibility for the present impasse on the Arab extremists and make Israel’s position firmer, Eban said.

He denied that such contacts would imply Israeli acceptance of a third state between Israel and Jordan. He insisted that such a state would not solve the Palestinian problem. Asked to define that problem, Eban referred to the million non-Israeli Arabs under Israeli rule who lack political status but have a defined national consciousness.

He said the Palestinian problem. though primarily an Arab one. is also partly an Israeli problem and Israel could not “unload it” in a peace settlement. He said Jordan would have to be involved in such a settlement but that afterwards its inhabitants might want “something more modern,” such as a Palestine republic.

Eban ruled out negotiating with the Palestine Liberation Organization as long as its program called for the elimination of Israel. He suggested that far from becoming more flexible, the PLO has grown more radical recently thanks to countries such as France and Sweden which opened their doors to it unconditionally. “The PLO is actually an obstacle to solving the Palestine problem.” Eban said.

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