Israel Army Must Be Strong to Deter Arabs from Starting War, Peres Says

Israel has no intention of starting a war against her Arab neighbors but cannot rule out the possibility that one of those neighbors may start a war against Israel and must, therefore, make the Israel Army the strongest possible deterrent force, Deputy Defense Minister Shimon Peres said last night.

Speaking at a meeting at Sokolow House, the high official of the Defense Ministry cited recent speeches by President Nasser of the United Arab Republic and Major Amir, Nasser’s deputy in Syria. He said those speeches had included “critical dates for action” to exterminate Israel.

He pointed out that Israel’s security position had changed radically since the 1956 Sinai campaign when security problems were of an immediate nature which called for immediate action. Since then, he said, a new danger had developed which Israel could not ignore. The danger developed from the fact that the United Arab Republic had accumulated “huge quantities” of new arms and had built a large-scale network of airfields, workshops and arms stores, as well as roads and railways with a specific goal.

He said the goal was to change the UAR army into a mobile, aggressive force on the pattern of the army of “one of the big powers” whose military technicians are training the UAR army. These developments had imbued the Egyptians with a feeling of strength and “an illusion of power.” When Egyptian leaders become saturated with such feelings, the Israel official said, there comes talk about target dates such as “the day is near to free Palestine for the Palestinian Arabs.”

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