President Carter said yesterday that the pattern of terroist attack and Israeli retaliation is inevitable in the Middle East without a halt to "quibbling" over details for launching peace talks.
The latest action-reaction across the Israeli-Lebanese border vividly illustrates the need for "immediate convening of the Geneva conference" he told a televised news conference
Carter called on Syria Jordan and Lebanon to join in and end to "procedural debates and squabbles" which Egypt and Israel have indicated they are prepared to suspend in order to start the Geneva talks. it is Syria which is raising largest obstacles, diplomatic sources say.
Carter did not condemn Israel for its punitive air raid Wednesday by American-built Phantom jets on suspected Palestinian camps, which reportedly left more than 100 people dead an more wounded. The raid was retaliation for Palestinian attacks with Russian-desig Katusha rockets on Israeli settlements.
"If there are continued attacks, some retaliation is required," Carter said. Asked if he thought the retaliation excessive, carter said, "perhaps yes" But he said, "The overriding consideration is not to condemn Israel at this point for retaliation, but just to say that if provocations were absent" then "the retaliation would have been unnecessary . . .
Despite Carter's renewed plea for urgent peace talks at Geneva. there is no longer a prospect for reconvening that conferences over procedure, of Arab differences over procedure, Israeli Labor Party leader Shimon Peres said here yesterday.
Peres, after talks this week with the Carter administration's highest officials, said, I would give it a geneva conference a fair chance for the first part of 1978" at the earliest.
Administration strategists are reported privately in agreement that hopes for holding the conference in December have disappeared. Peres said his understanding is that the American official "final assesment" on that will be made after the meeting of Arab leaders set fro Saturday in Tunis.
Neither President Carter nor secretary of State Cyrus R Vance, who spoke to a Jewish audience in Dallas last night, made any reference to meeting their late-December target date for the Geneva talks.
"It would be a tragedy if remaining differences over procedures were to thwart the opportunity now presented" for Arab-Israeli negotiations Vance said in a speech prepared for delivery to the Council of Jewish Federations and Welfare Fund Convetion.
"Difficult probelms do remain" for lauching negotiations, Vance said, but much progress has been made. He said the new violence in southern Lebanon and Israel "serve urgent notice of ht high human stake in the task before us ."
President Carter said that the Middle East "is just sitting and teetering on anothr outbreak of even more major violence . . .
He said he was "pleased that the Israeli government has adopted the procedures for the Geneva conference that we hace proposed" and also "pleased with the statement yesterday by President [Anwar] Sadat" of Egypt.
Sadat, Carter noted, expressed willingness "to go to Geneva or anywhere else and begin to consult directly with Israel and with the other Arab nations wult directlu with Israel and with the other Arab ntions without quibbling any more about the detailed wording of the procedures. That is our position," Carter said.
Carrter said, "I hope the Jordan and Syria and Lebanon very quickly will make a similar response to us" and "we can then convene the Geneva conference."
A state Department spokesman denied a news report from Cairo yesterday that the United States had offered a new, modified formula for initiating the conference. It continues to be the U.S. "hope", the spokesman said,to reconvene the conference "before the end of the year."
The core of the procedural problem which also extends to substance, is Syria Peres told American reporters. The former Israeli defense minister, who now leads the Labor Party opposition to the government of Prime Minister Menahem Begin, had meetings this week with Vance, Vice President Mondale, presidential National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski and other officials.
"While there is possibility of having a conference with an empty chair" for Syria, which happened in the first and only two-day meeting the Geneva conference in December 1973, Peres said, the United States still trying to induce Syria to attend.
"The real worry," Peres said, is that if Syria remains outside the conference again, it "may support and even press upon the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisations) to take the most extreme position" toward the conference.
The conference format which the United States and Israeli have agreed upon would permit Palestinians in the united Arab delegation at Geneva, with Israel prepared "not to scrutinize credientials" to see if any Palestinians are PLO representation at the conference, on grounds the PLO is pledged to remove the present state of Israel.
Peres said he sees no chance that Israel will agree to further modification of terms for the conference, and he said the United States is not asking it to do so. He also said, however, that the belives "there is still a great deal of work to be done" to organize the conference.
He said he was pleased to see that the President "accepted the idea of Israeli retaliation . . . when she was provoked." Peres disagreed, however, that the Israeli air raid into Lebanon could be considered "excessive" Peres contended it was "very limited" and Israel "waited quite a long time" to act, in view of the fact that "This was the fifth attack in a row in civilian settlements by Katushas rockets.
Asked if Israel is still apprehensive about Carter administration policy, Peres said "the situation was eased somewhat" by Carter's speech to the World Jewish Congress last week" byut considerable concern continues.
Peres saod, "Nobody doubts the intentions of the President, that they are serious and positive." But although Carter said last week "that he never Palestinian state, Peres said, "still we cannot take easily the repeated declaration ambiguous as they may be in favor ofa a Palestinian 'homeland' or 'entity' On that we feel terribly uneasy."
Israelis are similarly" terribly uneasy," Peres said, about Carter's position on "the future of frontires" - the extent of Israeli pullback from war occupied territories. The Arab nations demand posiion calls for withdrawal with only minor rectification in borders.
Vance, in his Dallas speech last night repeated that the United States "will not do anything which would jeopardize Israeli security by trying to exert pressure through the witholding of military or economic assistance." As evidence of overall U.S. support, he said the United States has "?served notice, for instance" that it "will not participate in any United Nations conference on racism if any item on its agenda seeks to equate Zionism with racism."