Foreign Minister Yigal Allon said here today that the Ford-Rabin talks last week had significantly narrowed–but not closed–the gap between Israel and Egypt which had brought about the “shuttle” failure last March, Speaking at the Jewish Agency Assembly, Allon warned the U.S. government against interposing ideas of its own or pressuring Israel.
“There is room and there is necessity for further efforts to overcome the remaining points of disagreement,” Allon asserted. Israel would make every effort to pursue such efforts. “But negotiations can only be conducted if there is no threat or pressure from any source,” Allon said. He said Egyptian war threats would only make Israel less willing to make concessions. “Nor should the U.S. use its reassessment to make us a little bit concerned over its policy towards us,” he added.
The progress that Rabin had made in Washington was “significant and important,” Allon said. “But some problems still remain open.” Israel needed no urging from the U.S. to pursue every effort to negotiate since it sincerely wanted an interim agreement as a method of positive movement towards further broader accords, Allon said. He said that what was needed was “patience, relaxed atmosphere and goodwill….If one trip doesn’t achieve a settlement then you can have other trips….”
Health Minister Victor Shemtov, speaking at a political meeting of his Mapam Party, said tonight that he was not pessimistic over the chances of a settlement–but neither was a settlement already “in the bag.” Israel still awaited further clarifications of the Egyptian positions, Shemtov said. Allon and Shemtov were the first two ministers to speak in public following yesterday’s special Cabinet session at which Rabin reported on his Washington talks. Rabin himself, in his first public appearance since his return, is due to address the Jewish Agency Assembly Thursday night.
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