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Rabin, Galili Say Sisco Visit Did Nothing to Narrow Israel-egypt Gap

August 9, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Two Israeli leaders agreed today that Joseph Sisco, Assistant Secretary of State, had failed during his week-long talks in Israel to bridge the gap between Egypt and Israel on conditions for an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal. Israel Galili, Minister Without Portfolio who often serves as an unofficial spokesman for Israel’s Cabinet, said in a radio interview that, in making that judgment, he was quoting Sisco’s comments at a press conference here Thursday before he left for Washington. Galili said that the canal reopening did not appear to be “a practical proposition for the present” but he warned against any Israeli stand of blocking the whole idea. In time, he said, it might become the basis for negotiations. Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, told newsmen today before leaving for Washington, that the gaps between the Egyptian and Israeli positions were just as wide as they were before the Sisco visit. Rabin said the Nixon Administration did not have a fixed position on conditions for an interim settlement to reopen the canal, declaring that taking such a stance would have meant that the United States would have lost its position as an arbitrator and become “a sided partner.”

Rabin said such an action would be similar to the “mistake” made by Dr. Gunnar Jarring, the special United Nations Mideast peace emissary, in issuing a document stating a position on the Mideast issues. He said that by doing so, Dr. Jarring had made himself a partner in the dispute and that unless he withdrew his document, he could not re-assume his role as mediator. Dr. Jarring returned to his post in Moscow as Swedish Ambassador to the USSR when the Nixon Administration undertook the initiative which brought about the cease-fire. Rabin also said that a balance of weapons in the Mideast was a condition for maintenance of the cease-fire and that the United States had not linked continuation of arms supply to Israel with any political move. He added that he did not exclude the possibility that a stage might arrive at which the U.S. might use weapons supply as a means of pressure. He stressed the fact that the Israel Defense Forces had been “greatly supplied” during the first year of the cease-fire with weapons and that most of them came from the United States.


The unanimity of Israel’s opposition to both Sisco’s reported terms and Egypt’s announced conditions for reopening the canal was dramatized today by a report that no member of the Cabinet had any critical comment at the regular Cabinet meeting today on the rejection of Sisco’s reported conditions by Premier Golda Meir and Foreign Minister Abba Eban in their talks last week with the American diplomat. The Cabinet unanimously endorsed the stand taken by Mrs. Meir and Eban and approved continuation of the talks in accordance with the communique published last Thursday when the talks with Sisco were concluded. It was reported also that Gen. Rabin will resume contact with Sisco and other U.S. officials soon after his return to Washington. But sources here said that Egyptian President Sadat’s latest pronouncement, in which he repeated his demands for an Israeli commitment for total withdrawal from the occupied areas, left little chance that any progress could be made soon on an interim agreement.

(The Egyptian press, citing reports from Israel, called the Sisco mission a failure, it was reported in London from Cairo. The powerful Cairo newspaper, Al Abram, which often reflects the views of the Egyptian government, said the mission had failed because Israel had rejected the presence of Egyptian troops in any part of the canal’s east bank section vacated by a partial Israeli pull-back, because Israel asked for an unlimited extension of the cease-fire and because Israel refused to make a commitment for total withdrawal from the occupied areas. But there was no indication that the Egyptian government had given up hope for U.S. pressure on Israel for an interim agreement to re-open the canal.)

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