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Israel Cabinet Debates Instructions to Eshkol on Eve of Meetings with Lbj

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Israel’s cabinet pondered today what Prime Minister Levi Eshkol is to tell President Johnson during their talks in Texas next month, if the President presses him for a substantive statement on the future of occupied Arab territories.

Members were unanimous in stating that, whatever the Prime Minister does say, must reflect the views of the Cabinet. But there appears to be a split within that body as to what Israel’s future frontiers should be. All agree, however, that “not one inch of occupied territory” will be evacuated before there is a signed peace treaty with the Arabs, informed sources said here.

According to these sources, about a third of the cabinet is prepared to agree to at least a partial Israeli withdrawal, especially in the West Bank, as part of a peace treaty with the Arabs. Another third insists that the Jordan River must be Israel’s permanent frontier in the future. The remainder are undecided. But the Cabinet is expected to defer its discussion of the matter so as not to jeopardize the national emergency coalition government. The Gahal faction, made up of Herut and the Liberal Party, is committed to Israel’s retention of all occupied territories, and would probably leave the Government if a contrary decision is taken.

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