New Dispute Looms with the U.S. over the Resumption of Geneva Peace Talks

The mood of near exaltation that permeated Jerusalem Sunday when it seemed that by accepting the United States proposal for a pan-Arab delegation at the Geneva peace talks Israel had opened the way for resuming the peace conference, has very quickly dissipated. It has been replaced, in fact, by fears of a new dispute with the U.S. and the beginnings of what seem to be burgeoning angry and possibly damaging diplomatic exchanges.

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance already gave public voice Monday to Washington’s view that the Israeli Cabinet statement Sunday that had purported to accept the U.S. proposals in fact created new conditions which had not been agreed upon by the U.S.

At his meeting with Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan Monday evening, it is reliably understood. Vance was a good deal more categorical, sharply criticizing both the very publication and the actual content of the Israeli Cabinet statement. The Cabinet statement read out orally by Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor on Sunday in Hebrew and an English translation made available to newsmen, said:

CONTENT OF CABINET STATEMENT

“The Cabinet has decided to authorize the Foreign Minister to inform the President of the U.S. that the Israeli government accepts the President’s proposal on the conditions relating to the convocation of a further session of the Geneva conference. These are:

“A–A united Arab delegation representing all the Arab states participating in the Geneva conference will take part in the ceremonial opening session.

“B–Arabs of Eretz Israel who are not known as members of the Palestine Liberation Organization may participate in the united delegation. Palestinian Arabs will not participate in the opening session as a separate body, but as part of the Jordanian delegation.

“C–No negotiation whatsoever will be conducted with the united delegation.

“D–After the opening session the united delegation will split up into delegations representing the various states in order to conduct negotiations on the matters appertaining to each of these states separately.”

On Sunday and again today Israeli officials, including Naor, insisted that this text faithfully represented the American proposal as made by President Carter to Dayan in Washington Sept. 19 and as transmitted afterwards by Dayan to Jerusalem. The officials admitted that the precise wording, for instance, the reference to Eretz Israel Arabs… was drown up in Jerusalem, but they were adamant that no substantive embellishment had been undertaken.

REASON FOR U.S. ANGER

American anger is directed at Israel’s irregular action in publishing a proposal specifically attributed to Carter which the President himself had not seen fit to publish. Moreover, there appears to be discord between the two countries over the substantive content of the purported proposal, especially the content of the key paragraph on Palestinian participation. An American source spoke of “the very original way” in which Israel has behaved. His words were spoken with heavy cynicism.

But Israeli sources indicated today that it had been Washington, not Jerusalem, that sought “to have it both ways” by enunciating deliberately vague formulations and preferring to keep them unpublished in the hope of retaining sufficient flexibility to satisfy both sides. Israel, however, had deliberately decided to publish the American proposal “in order to nail it down,” these sources indicated.

They could not explain, though, why this publication had been done in the form of a direct and official attribution to the U.S. President. The U.S. proposal had not been put forward in writing by Washington, while the Israeli Cabinet statement appeared to imply that it had and as enunciated by Israel.

But the Israeli sources insisted that in essence the Cabinet communique Sunday had reflected American views at the time and that these views now appeared to have changed apparently in response to further Arab pressures. The sources charged that Vance’s and other U.S. statements criticizing the Israeli communique were designed to influence Arab thinking and to keep up the momentum of American efforts to reconvene Geneva despite the new obstacles.

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