Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

State Department Reported Working on Suez Canal Reopening Formula

August 12, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

State Department officials are preparing a formula to extend efforts by the United States towards arranging a partial settlement between Israel and Egypt which could lead to a reopening of the Suez Canal, according to diplomatic sources here. Despite reliable reports that Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco received only slight encouragement from Israeli officials in his talks with them about the canal reopening which ended last Wednesday, sources reported yesterday that the Department is anxious to preserve its initiative regarding the reopening of the canal. A major reason for the formula, sources noted, is to resist demand a in the United Nations General Assembly convening in New York next month for Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring to resume his mission for a full settlement based on Security Council Resolution 242. Strong condemnation of Israel from most of the countries represented in the General Assembly is expected under the leadership of the Soviet Union, the Arab states and France. The State Department was said not to be concerned by the expected resolutions concerning Israel. One diplomatic source said, in fact, that the Americans would welcome the onslaught against Israel to help weaken Israel’s resistance against an interim settlement favoring Egypt.

However, this source said, the U.S. delegation, at the explicit instructions from Pres. Nixon, will fight any attempt by the UN to impose sanctions on Israel or alter the language of Security Council Resolution 242, or allow an opening for the Soviet Union to employ direct military measures against Israel. In effect, the diplomatic sources stated, the current U.S. view is to attempt to expand and strengthen the cease-fire arrangement now in its second year and create conditions to facilitate moves towards an overall settlement. An effort towards and overall settlement at present would be doomed to failure since Egypt and Israel are too far apart for that broad formula undertaken by Ambassador Jarring, sources added. Six major points seem to be at issue between Egypt and Israel on the Interim settlement idea. They are, according to the sources, the relationships between the interim and full settlement, the distance of Israel’s pullback from the canal, the deployment of Egyptian troops across the canal, the length of the continuity of the cease-fire. Israeli shipping in the canal during the interim settlement and supervision of the area evacuated by an Israeli pullback. Regarding the latter issue. Israel was reported as keeping in mind Soviet-Egyptian cheating along the canal after the standstill cease-fire when it was agreed upon a year ago. Meanwhile, State Department spokesmen declined to discuss whether Sisco will return to the Middle East again on Egyptian President Sadat’s threat of resumed warfare if the interim settlement activity is unsatisfactory to him by the end of this year.

Recommended from JTA