JERUSALEM (May. 16)
The government expressed relief yesterday following strong statements by President Carter and Secretary of State Cyrus Vance re-affirming the “special security relationship” that exists between the United States and Israel. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon told the Cabinet, at its last session before election day, that Israel “could justly feel satisfied” with developments over the past few days.
Allon was referring to Carter’s letter of last Thursday to Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Aid, in which he said “I recognize the special responsibility the United States has toward Israel and the particular consideration that must be given to our military arms and co-production arrangements with Israel.”
Allon also referred to Vance’s remarks in his presence following their meeting at the U.S. Embassy in London last week and to Carter’s elaboration on the U.S.-Israel relationship at his Washington press conference last Thursday. Allon’s briefing to his Cabinet colleagues was published in some detail in the official Cabinet communique released after the session.
On the Palestinian Issue, Allon reported that the U.S. had not yet determined its own position and that, in his conversations with Vance, he had vigorously re-stated Israel’s total opposition to a third state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.
U.S. VIEW OF ARAB LEADERS
With respect to Vance’s report to him on U.S. discussions with Arab leaders, Allon said the U.S. had found King Hussein of Jordan to be the most “open” on the question of “the nature of peace,” a subject on which the U.S. and Israel hold very much the same positions. President Anwar Sadat of Egypt was somewhat less positive on that subject and President Hafez Assad of Syria was the least forthcoming of the Arab leaders with whom President Carter has met to date, Allon said.
Allon said that Vance believes that of the three key issues–borders, Palestinians and the nature of peace–the widest gap between Israelis and Arabs is on the border question. Vance reported that all of the Arab leaders were firm in demanding Israel’s return to the 1967 lines. The U.S. response, according to Vance, was that this must be part of the negotiations, linked to talks on the “nature of peace.”
RENEWAL OF U.S. COMMITMENT
Both Allon and Defense Minister Shimon Peres who is acting as Premier, noted with satisfaction that the U.S. re-stated its intention not to come forward publicly with Mideast peace proposals of its own and not to “impose a settlement.” But Allon warned that the U.S. did “reserve the right to put forward to the parties at a more advanced stage of the negotiating process thoughts and ideas designed to bridge the gaps.”
He said Carter’s pledges regarding Israel’s categorization as an arms and technology recipient and as a possible do-producer of advanced arms were “an important renewal of the American commitment.” This commitment was vitally significant both as a statement of principle–Vance had noted in London that the U.S. wanted a strong Israel both as a deterrent to the Arabs and so as to enable it to be bold in peace moves–and as a practical step. The Merkava (Chariot) tank was just one concrete result of the President’s policy line, Allon said.
NOTES AREAS OF DISCORD
At the same time, the Foreign Minister acknowledged that there were areas of discord looming ahead in the U.S.-Israel relations over certain key elements in the upcoming peace negotiations. He said the two countries did not agree on the cardinal question of “defensible borders.”
Allon said he had stressed to Vance, in London, that for Israel these must be the same as the sovereign final borders of the State and certainly different from the 1967 lines. Moreover, Allon said, security arrangements such as electronic sensors and buffer zones would only be acceptable to Israel in addition to, not instead of, “defensible borders.”