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Dayan’s Mystery Visit to London Cuts Little Ice with Israeli Press

August 23, 1977
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London’s evening papers blared their speculation about Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan’s mystery visit to the British capital today in much bigger type than their Israeli counterparts. Will he meet Jordan’s King Hussein? the British press wondered. Here in Israel, that speculation tickled the curiosity of press and public, too. But no one seemed overly exercised about it.

After all, as Dayan himself said in a weekend press interview, published before his plan to visit London was made, Israeli and Jordanian leaders have been holding face-to-face meetings for 10 years now. This was probably the first such authoritative confirmation of a fact that everyone has known for years to be true. Indeed, government officials here scarcely bother to deny anymore reports that former Foreign Minister Abba Eban conferred with Hussein in London at least once and that he and other Israeli leaders met the King somewhere in the Negev, too.

Although it seems at first sight bizarre and even incredible, the best guess regarding the Dayan visit is probably that he is going for precisely the purpose enunciated by official spokesmen here: to brief the leaders of Anglo-Jewry on the situation of Mideast peace-making following the visit by U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and in advance of Dayan’s own upcoming talks in New York during the United Nations General Assembly session.

The idea, according to the officials here, was Premier Menachem Begin’s. He is anxious, they explain, to maintain close links with all the major world Jewish centers, not just the U.S. community. Having briefed last week Rabbi Alexander Schindler, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, with a view to his passing on the information and assessments to the Presidents Conference, Begin felt that Anglo-Jewry deserved similarly to be “put in the picture.”

“Since there is no equivalent in Britain to the Presidents Conference, and since Britain is a good deal nearer than the U.S., the Premier thought it would be simpler to ask the Foreign Minister to pop over there,” one official explained.

(Dayan made a non-scheduled stopover in France today but in going from one airport to another he was careful to avoid entering Paris. There was no indicating why Dayan stopped in France since his plane was to have been non-stop to London.)

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