TEL AVIV (Mar. 21)
Israel is ready to enter into peace negotiations with the Arab states without setting any prior conditions, Premier David Ben Gurion said today in an impromptu press conference with a party of 42 American editors and radio and television news commentators. The Americans, who arrived here today on a two-day flying visit, entered from Jordan by way of the Mandelbaum Gate in Jerusalem, and first conferred with Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett before coming to Tel Aviv this evening.
While the newsmen bombarded Mr. Ben Gurion with questions, he emphasized that war could be averted if the United States would grant Israel adequate quantities of defensive arms to offset the Soviet MIG fighters and Ilyushin bombers which the Egyptians have obtained. He said that he could not believe that the U.S. would remain adamant in its refusal to sell Israel arms, since the security of the entire world had been endangered by Egypt’s deal with the Soviet bloc, not just Israel’s peace.
Mr. Sharett, who also answered questions posed by the American newsmen, said that Israel would resist a “new Munich” which might be offered her under threat of the Arab build-up. There could be no greater fallacy than such a belief, he continued. The people of Israel will not submit to such pressure, he said. “We know what is at stake and we shall fight as a united people to thwart the Arab design to destroy us.”
He made the same point as Mr. Ben Gurion, that the best way to preserve peace is to give Israel sufficient defensive weapons to convince the Arabs that any military adventure would be risky. He said that despite the fact that Israel was not responsible for the Arab refugees fleeing Palestine, Israel was willing to compensate them for the lands they abandoned.