January 31, 1978 – a day to recognize Olive branches in the Middle East. The channels for peace talks were being cleared again, and a new sense of momentum was developing in the peace process. Military talks between the Egyptian and Israeli Defense ministers were slated to resume later this evening in Cairo. No date as yet had been set for resumption of the Jerusalem political sessions Egypt called off nearly two weeks earlier. But American mediation efforts in Jerusalem had resulted in a reported draft of negotiating principles. Assistant Secretary of State Atherton was scheduled to meet with the Egyptian Foreign Minister to discuss the American-Israeli draft. Atherton said his talks with the Egyptian Foreign Minister were intended to be informal and exploratory, no real bargaining was expected there until Anwar Sadat returned from his trip to the U.S. and Europe late the following week. But hopes were high in Israel that substantial achievements in Cairo and not just talk. But it remained to be seen whether compromise was possible between Egypt and Israel on the two issues which broke up the last round of talks; Israel’s Sinai settlements and the rights of the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, hardliners from Arab nations opposing the Israeli/Egyptian peace talks met in Algiers. Calling themselves The Front For Steadfastness, the five countries were hoping to set up and alternative to the Israeli peace initiative, and supporting Syria as the only remaining confrontation state on Israel’s border. But it had difficulties getting off the ground; Iraq walked out on the last Front meeting in Tripoli, Libya and all the diplomacy since then had failed to bring the Iraqis back to the fold. The reason was, Iraq saw Syria and the PLO as being far too moderate in their stand against Sadat and against peace. And until some compromise was reached, the divisions within the Front, Anwar Sadat’s Arab rivals were likely to remain divided on just how far their policy of refusal should go.
And that’s just a small portion of what went on this January 31, 1978 – as presented by The CBS World News Roundup.