Cabinet Stands Firm on Direct Talks with Arabs, Eases Refugee Return
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Cabinet Stands Firm on Direct Talks with Arabs, Eases Refugee Return

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Main guidelines for the Israel delegation to the forthcoming sessions of the United Nations General Assembly were being formulated today in line with policy decisions confirmed by the Israel Cabinet at its meeting yesterday.

The major policy decision was a reaffirmation of the Israeli stand on negotiations with the Arabs adopted by the Cabinet last month. The Cabinet ruled then that “direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab states must take place with the aim of signing peace treaties. As long as there is no peace. Israel will maintain in its entirety, the situation laid down in the cease-fire arrangements that followed the repulsion of aggression by the Israeli forces.”

The decision firmly ruled out any third-party mediation in which the third-party-the United Nations or interested states–would sit in on Arab-Israeli talks or seek to mediate between the two sides.


The Israeli Cabinet was reliably reported also to have formulated new instructions on the return of Arab refugees to the Israeli-held west bank area. While no official information was forthcoming as to the nature of these instructions, it was generally understood that the Israel delegation to the United Nations General Assembly would be authorized to announce that additional numbers of Arab refugees would be permitted to return to the west bank.

Israel has been under strong pressure from the Western countries to permit the Arabs who fled during the fighting last June to return to their former homes on the west bank of the Jordan. Secretary of State Dean Rusk has been especially insistent on this point and, it was understood, his position was considered at length at the meeting of the Cabinet yesterday.

Britain, West Germany and the Scandinavian countries were also understood to have urged Israel to permit the return of the Arabs, stressing that creation of a new refugee problem would not contribute towards pacification of the area.

Foreign Minister Abba S. Eban, it was reported, led the fight in the Cabinet session for authorization to permit the return of a larger number of its former inhabitants to the west bank.


The Israeli Ministers were forcefully reminded yesterday that only the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister were authorized to make public declarations on the future of the territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War.

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol reaffirmed this condition at the Cabinet meeting after Foreign Minister Abba S. Eban referred to statements on this issue by members of the Cabinet and said they had no right to make “personal” statements on matters of policy.

The discussion was precipitated by publication in the London Sunday Observer of an interview with Defense Minister Moshe Dayan who speculated on the possibility that Jordan might regain sovereignty over the west bank area but that the area would remain under Israeli aid to Jordan in the supply of water and electric power.

Two other members of the Cabinet have also recently aired their views on the future of the occupied territories in speeches and interviews. They were Minister of Labor Yigal Allon and Minister of Transport Moshe Carmel.


The Cabinet meeting evinced concern over the low Jewish birthrate in Israel. After considering a report from Prof. R. Baki, the Government statistician, the Cabinet decided on establishment of a Government Authority on Demography. Mrs. Zena Harman, wife of the Ambassador to Washington, was named to head the new agency.

Mrs. Harman will be a member of the Israeli delegation to the United Nations General Assembly and is expected to take up her new post early next year. She is currently a member of the executive board of the United Nations Children’s Fund.


Acting on the recommendation of Prime Minister Eshkol and Minister of Police Eliahu Sasson. the Cabinet voted to transfer headquarters of the Israel police department from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem. The move, which may cost as much as $12,000,000, will bring the central police headquarters into closer relationship with other Government departments. In the three decades of the British mandate over Palestine, central police headquarters were in the Old Russian Compound in the Jaffa Road near the Old City.

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