JERUSALEM (Jan. 23)
Deputy Premier Yigal Allon said last night that Israel may be witnessing “the rebirth of political realism” on the part of its Arab neighbors and that he believed Israel’s desire for defensible boundaries and the Arabs’ legitimate political demands could be realized through constructive negotiations. Allon had kind words for President Anwar Sadat of Egypt.
Recalling that the Egyptian leader had recently claimed he was prepared to sacrifice a million Egyptian lives in a new war with Israel, Allon contrasted that statement with Sadat’s recent decision not to resume shooting. “His latest decision to refrain from opening fire was that of a courageous leader concerned with the destiny of his country and people,” Allon said.
The Deputy Premier delivered the keynote address at a festive session of the 28th World Zionist Congress devoted to 75 years of Zionist history. His remarks on the international political situation seemed particularly significant in light of a flurry of reports during the past three days indicating that progress has been made toward “proximity” talks between Israel and Egypt.
WASHINGTON CAUTIOUS ON TALKS
(US State Department officials said Friday in Washington that “some progress” had been made on the possibility of “close proximity” talks with Egypt on an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal but that it would be “premature” to report more than that. An unidentified authoritative source in Washington said that “Pending completion of discussions with the Israelis that we have been having in recent weeks, we are not in a position to explore the matter in a useful way with Egypt.”)
(The reference was to the series of talks held during the past week with Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin and US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joseph J. Sisco. Their latest meeting was last Thursday. “Proximity” talks refer to a proposal made last year by Secretary of State William P. Rogers that Israeli and Egyptian negotiators convene separately in the same hotel for talks on an interim accord with the US serving as a go-between. The most important precedent for such talks were the Rhodes armistice negotiations of 1949 when the mediator was the late Dr. Ralph Bunche of the United Nations.)
NO SUBSTANTIVE DIFFERENCES
Political circles here confirmed today that an agreement with the US on proximity talks was close and that there were no serious differences of opinion on matters of substance. Foreign Minister Abba Eban said on a radio interview yesterday that there was a general atmosphere of “wait and see” as to what course Egyptian policy will take in view of last week’s demonstrations for war by Cairo university students.
Eban said the basic question was whether Egypt is prepared for a settlement that will not injure Israel’s defense position or political rights. He said that the Israeli-US talks were still in progress and stressed that the US was not offering Phantom jets to Israel in exchange for its abandonment of conditions which Israel regards as indispensable for its security. Reports over the weekend indicated that the US is about to deliver 18 Phantoms to Israel and that Israel had softened its position on negotiations for an interim Suez accord.
JARRING GOING TO AFRICA
The announcement in Cairo yesterday that Egypt has ceased its Middle East dialogue with the US because of Washington’s military aid to Israel was seen here today as aiming to appease the Cairo university students. The latter demanded that the Sadat government break off its political talks and concentrate on war preparations. According to observers here, Cairo will at the moment cooperate only with UN mediator Gunnar V. Jarring whose search for an over-all Middle East
(Dr. Jarring has been unable to make any progress since his return to UN headquarters in New York on Jan. 23. A UN spokesman announced Friday that the Swedish diplomat will visit Senegal and Mauritania late this month to review the recent findings of the four African Presidents who went on an exploratory peace mission to the Middle East last fall on behalf of the Organization for African Unity.)