JERUSALEM (Feb. 16)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance agreed today that the Geneva conference should be reconvened during the latter half of 1977. They indicated that Israel and the U.S. were of one mind in opposing the participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization in peace negotiations. Vance also conveyed to the Premier and Mrs. Rabin an invitation from President Carter to meet with him in Washington early next month.
Rabin and Vance met for three hours here this morning. The Israeli leader said afterwards that there were no major issues on which the U.S. and Israel differed. Vance described the meeting as “thorough, helpful and useful.” He said “We have discussed the military situation and a number of related problems as well as economic problems and other subjects of common interest between our two countries. I think that I now have a much clearer understanding of the position of Israel with respect to a number of issues relating to the search for peace.”
Israeli sources said Vance informed Rabin at their meeting that Carter would delay his decision on whether to sell concussion bombs to Israel until after the Secretary of State returns from his Mideast tour. According to the sources. Vance explained that any decision at this time could have adverse effects on his mission which includes visits to five Arab countries after leaving Israel tonight.
On the issue of PLO participation in the Geneva conference. Rabin told reporters after the meeting that there was no change in Israel’s refusal to have any contacts with the PLO which it regards as a terrorist organization with the stated aim of destroying Israel. Asked about the U.S. attitude toward a PLO presence at Geneva. Vance replied. “The answer is, no.” However. Vance had said before his departure from Washington that he intended to explore reports that the PLO has modified its policies.
OIL EXPLORATION MATTER DISCUSSED
Another matter taken up at the meeting was Israeli oil exploration in the Gulf of Suez. According to sources here. Vance asked Israel to permit Amoco, a division of the Standard Oil Co., to carry out drilling in the gulf on the basis of an Egyptian lease and said Israel did not have a legal right to carry out exploration there.
It was reported today that a floating oil rig owned by Amoco entered Israeli controlled waters in the Gulf of Suez several days ago but left without incident after an Israeli patrol boat signaled that the rig was in Israeli waters. Last September. Israeli gun boats were involved in an incident with American oil rigs in the gulf.
Today’s working session with Vance, held at the Prime Minister’s residence, was attended by Simcha Dinitz. Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and Philip Habib of the State Department. Later. Vance and his aides met with the Israeli ministerial negotiating team consisting of Rabin. Defense Minister Shimon Peres. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur. Between meetings. Vance visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum guided by Gideon Hausner, a member of the Cabinet.