JERUSALEM (Jun. 9)
The Israel Government today made public the text of its reply to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev who suggested declaring the Mediterranean as a nuclear-free zone.
Emphasizing that joint and coordinated action of the great powers could effect peace in the Middle East, the reply said that Israel will welcome any effective initiative that would remove the danger of war in the region. It stressed that Israel is a member of no military pact, has no nuclear arms and has provided no site for a military base, whether for nuclear or other weapons. “The preservation of peace is of vital interest for the existence of the State of Israel and the policy of Israel rests on that conviction,” the reply stated.
The note cited Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s statement in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, which was made one week before the Soviet proposal was received and which declared: “If there was a possibility of a joint action between the United States and the Soviet Union not only to prevent an arms race but to bring about, as we propose, a general disarmament in Israel and the Arab countries, and along with that to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all Middle East states, that would be one of the greatest acts of peace in the world.”
The reply noted that Israel on many occasions had recorded opposition concerning the development of nuclear weapons and in every international forum had declared its readiness to support all measures to that end in every part of the world and, of course, in the Mediterranean area as well. Recalling that a Soviet representative at the United Nations had declared that peace was indivisible, the reply stated that those words, so valid then, are infinitely more apposite to the problems of peace today.
Israel constantly drew attention to the dangers to the peace of the region which stem from a policy of Arab governments and, in addressing the General Assembly last October, Foreign Minister Golda Meir reiterated an appeal to the Arab states to agree to general Israel-Arab disarmament with mutual supervision, the statement continued. “The support of the powers for this proposal would assuredly have thrust back danger in our region,” the reply added.
‘INEXACT INTERPRETATIONS’ WITH REGARD TO ISRAEL SEEN IN SOVIET NOTE
Before dealing with the substance of the Soviet proposal, the Foreign Ministry’s reply stated: “It is difficult to withhold certain observations touching on a number of errors, omissions and inexact interpretations in the Soviet note as far as the State of Israel is concerned.”
While the Soviet note mentioned great sufferings from time immemorial of Mediterranean peoples ranging from ancient Egypt to Carthage, it ignored Israel, “one people whose place and historical cultural and political influence in this region are perhaps not interior to those of the peoples mentioned,” the statement stressed.
Similarly, the reply noted, when it described the feelings of millions who live in the region and dwelt on the fact that nuclear armament is to be found at the walls of the Vatican, Jerusalem, Mecca and Medina, it referred only to Christians and Moslems as concerned with the welfare of those cities “but the note fails to refer to the Jews, although Jerusalem is the historical capital of the people of Israel, the city of the prophets who were first to preach the idea of universal peace and the city that has been sacred to the entire Jewish people from antiquity to the present day.”
Furthermore, the reply stressed, contrary to what has been said in the note, Israel was compelled in October 1956 to defends borders and the lives and property of its citizens against incessant acts of aggression, murder and pillage perpetrated by Egypt, and that Israel at no time bombed Cairo or Port Said; in fact they never attempted to reach either place.
SAYS SOVIET SUPPLY OF ARMS TO ARABS UNDERMINES PEACE
With regard to the fundamental assumptions of the Soviet proposal, the note said, Israel desires most solemnly to emphasize that every expression of appreciation about the danger of arming and nuclear warfare, and the initiative to labor for their prevention, evokes a most positive response. Israel has repeatedly and consistently sounded a warning
Citing the Arab public threats to destroy Israel, the note stressed that in these circumstances, the supply of arms in vast volume to the Arab governments–and especially since the end of 1955 to Egypt–“with utter disregard of the policy of belligerency which those states follow, creates a direct threat to Israel and undermines international peace adding constantly to the risk of a conflagration.
“It cannot be fore seen to what consequences war may lead in our days even if it be only ‘conventional’ war, how it can be stopped and how it will end if it should break out in our region and bring disaster to all people in it,” the note pointed out.