LAKE SUCCESS (Jul. 26)
Israel is prepared to move forward from the current armistice situation and take the next step toward peace agreements, but if the Arab states are still hesitant, the Jewish state is prepared to take its stand for as long as necessary, “on the scrupulous and precise observance of the agreements already reached,” Aubrey S. Eban, Israeli delegate to the United Nations, today told newsmen.
He also emphasized that while Israel would welcome the restoration of trade with the Arab states, it will not sacrifice its long-term national interests in the face of a short-term economic crisis. It was his first meeting with the press since his return from a lengthy stay in Israel.
Mr. Eban called on the Security Council to proceed cautiously in lifting the terms of its original truce order, particularly that portion dealing with a Middle Eastern embargo, insisting that an armaments race may follow the lifting of the ban. However, he quickly pointed out that if the embargo is annulled and the Arabs begin to arm heavily, Israel will “see to its own defense.”
Other points which he touched upon in the course of the conference included: Israel is beset by difficult economic problems; the bulk of the immigrants are swiftly absorbed into the economy; the United States is interested in an economic assistance program, but has not divulged the details to Israel; the Jewish state will cooperate in the formation of a regional economic commission for the Middle East when the Arabs are ready; and, Israel will consider cooperating with the General Assembly if the U.N. body should appropriate funds for refugee relief.
Mr. Eban declared that the signing of armistice pacts between Israel and the various Arab states amounts to “a provisional peace settlement” attained by “mutual agreement under U.N. auspices.” He pointed out that the armistice pacts “do not separate military forces” but “mark the clearly defined areas of full civil authority exercised by the Governments of Israel and the neighboring states.” Asserting that the armistices represent agreements based on mutual consent, he added that the Jews will not abandon this position for another, unless the latter is also based on mutual consent.
“Whether new progress is immediately possible depends upon whether direct meetings between Israeli and Arab representatives can be arranged. Without such meetings there cannot be new agreements,” he stated. “Only when you hear that Israeli and Arab representatives are sitting together can you begin to expect another phase of progress,” Mr. Eban warned.