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Mccloskey: Israel-egypt at Odds over More Than Question of Total Israeli Withdrawal

August 12, 1971
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Egypt’s insistence that Israel commit herself to withdrawal from all of the Sinai Peninsula before negotiations is “an issue” between the two countries but not the central one,” the State Department said today. Department spokesman Robert J. McCloskey, assessing a Washington Post report from Jerusalem yesterday, commented on the assertion by correspondent Alfred Friendly that Israeli leaders believe “Egypt’s only aim in proposing the (Suez) canal reopening is to extract from Israel a prior commitment to withdraw from all of Sinai back to the 1967 borders.” McCloskey told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent: “One of the issues is indeed that very one, yes, in addition to other issues on which there has to be resolution.”

The other issues are known to include the crossing of the canal by Egyptian troops, Israeli transit of the canal and the extent of an initial Israeli pullback. McCloskey prefaced his remarks by saying that on previous occasions he was “a little more at liberty (to comment) than presently.” Asked whether Assistant Secretary Joseph J. Sisco, back from talks with Israeli leaders, would hold a press conference here soon, McCloskey declared that the State Department “took virtually an oath in blood” not to discuss Middle East developments publicly, and “we’re trying to adhere to that.” Israeli Embassy officials also refused to talk about Sisco’s meetings.

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