Peace in Middle East is Nearer Now, Golda Meir Says in London

Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister, expressed the belief today that peace in the Middle East “is nearer now than it ever was” because of the announced Arab intention to withhold military attack until victory was certain. She told a press conference that while the Arab countries were waiting, Israel was growing stronger “and so attacking Israel becomes a less and less attractive proposition and consequently peace is nearer.

She told representatives of the international, British and Israeli press that israel’s massive irrigation project, which will tap the Jordan River, would start “as soon as our engineers tell us the project is completed” which “will be some time in 1964.” She also noted that the Arab rulers had warned they would oppose the project by force. She said that “nobody in international relations dared or threatened hitherto to cut off water resources.”

Warning that such threats were “tantamount to an attack on one’s territory,” she expressed the hope that “the Arabs will think better of it. To us it would be something very serious,” she stated. She noted that Jordan went ahead with its proposed share of the regional water project developed by the late Eric Johnston as a special emissary of the then President Eisenhower ten years ago, and that Israel made no objections. “If they can do it, why not us?” she asked.

SAYS ISRAEL IS FOR ABOLITION OF ALL MILITARY WEAPONS

Stressing that the Arabs get ultra-modern arms under more convenient conditions that Israel does, Mrs. Meir said that quality was more important than quantity in the

The friendship between France and the Arab countries in no way affects the deep friendship of the Government and people of France toward Israel, she said. “We never wanted exclusivity. As a matter of fact, we want friendship with the Arabs too, so why should we object to other people being friendly with them?” she stated. As to the Soviet Union, Mrs. Meir said that she herself could see no change in the attitude of the Soviet Union, adding “I wish I did. I know some people do seem to sense a change.”

Touching on Israel’s efforts to obtain an understanding with the six-nation European Common Market. She said: “Israel’s goal was association with but not membership in the Common Market.”

NEXT STORY