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Israelis See Possibility of U.S. Peace Initiative in 1976

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Highly placed Israeli sources said today they do not rule out the prospect of some stopped-up American Mideast diplomacy in advance of the Presidential elections. The sources said there is not “yet” any hard evidence to support this prediction, but they nevertheless consider it a reasonable possibility.

They explained that the Ford Administration would have two purposes in accelerating its diplomatic efforts in the region at this time: to ensure continued quiet through the closing stages of the election campaign; and to underline its past successes in this field and its image of successful peacemaking between Arabs and Israelis. The sources said the U.S. effort could take two forms: either a trip through the region by Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, who is due to visit Iran in the summer, or invitations to Israeli and Arab heads of government or foreign ministers to visit Washington.

The sources said an American initiative was feasible even if the Lebanese crisis has not been settled by the summer. On a related issue, the sources said no Arab state has as yet responded to Israel’s end-of-war initiative but it was significant, and perhaps encouraging to note that by the same taken no Arab state has officially rejected the initiative. There were some rejections voiced by the press and other media commentators in some Arab states, but this still did not represent an official rejection, the sources said. They added that the chances of the initiative eventually bearing fruit seemed reasonably hopeful, especially when one considered the alternatives: stalemate leading to war–which neither side appeared to want at this time; or overall peace settlement talks, which seemed an unrealistic prospect at present.

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