TEL AVIV (Oct. 29)
Gen. Moshe Dayan, Israel’s Defense Minister, told a crowded press conference here this weekend that Israel still considers itself bound by the cease-fire agreement with Egypt despite the Egyptians’ unwarranted attack on and sinking of the Elath” on October 21 off Port Said.
He told more than 200 newspaper and television reporters that the sinking of the destroyer was not only a “flagrant violation” of the cease-fire agreement but was in fact also the “most serious challenge to the cease-fire as such.” He declared that the destroyer had not entered Egyptian territorial waters, had not opened fire, and that its course was not in the direction of Egypt when the Egyptians opened fire with Soviet-made Styx guided missiles.
The Defense Minister’s press conference was the first in several weeks. He had rejected all requests for such Interviews for several weeks after he was sharply criticized by Premier Levi Eshkol for his wide-ranging statements to newsmen. He said Israel’s view was that the cease-fire should not only be observed but also that it was to the Interest of both parties to keep it until some better arrangement was achieved, such as a peace agreement.
Gen. Dayan welcomed the proposal by United Nations Secretary-General U Thant to increase U.N. observer facilities and men along the Suez Canal. He said this would mean “objectively reporting on happenings there.” Asked about the growing number of Soviet naval vessels coming to Port Said and Alexandria on the Sinai coast, he replied there was “nothing against such visits” as long as the Egyptians did not use the Soviet fleet’s presence as “a cover for their aggressive actions.” He also said, in reply to another question, that Israel “tried and is trying” to acquire new modern weapons.