Israel Cabinet Reaffirms Interpretation of ‘secure, Recognized’ Boundaries

The coalition Cabinet today issued an official statement reaffirming Israel’s previously declared interpretation of the United Nations Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution on the Middle East. The Cabinet took pains to note that it regards the term “secure and recognized boundaries” called for by that resolution to mean borders agreed to by the countries of the area within the framework of a peace agreement and that no other interpretation was admissible as far as Israel is concerned.

The Cabinet’s move had a twofold purpose: to set the record straight as far as Israel’s policy toward the much-discussed resolution is concerned and to avert an open rift among Cabinet members on how the resolution should be interpreted. In the latter connection today’s Cabinet statement stressed that no official standing should be given to last week’s remarks by Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan. Addressing a closed caucus of Laborite members of the Knesset (Parliament), Gen. Dayan had asserted that the Nov. 22 resolution was a demand for Israel to withdraw from the occupied Arab territories and as such should be rejected by the Government. A spokesman for the Cabinet said today that Gen. Dayan had himself made it clear that he was enunciating no official policy. His remarks, according to the spokesman, constituted a personal evaluation of Israel’s stand on the resolution and related problems. Dayan’s remarks were off the record but were “leaked” to the press.

Today’s Cabinet statement gave “full and emphatic” endorsement to Foreign Minister Abba Eban’s interpretation of the resolution, reaffirmed by his statements to the Knesset and by the statements to the UN Security Council by Israel’s chief representative, Ambassador Yosef Tekoah. Mr. Eban had declared that while the situation that existed on June 4, 1967, the day before the outbreak of the Six-Day War. could not be restored, Israel was willing to negotiate “secure and recognized boundaries” with each Arab state as part of the peace-making process. In endorsing this stand, the Cabinet statement observed that the British and American positions on the Nov. 22 resolution coincided with Israel’s. On Nov. 15, 1967, the U.S. representative on the Security Council, Ambassador Arthur J. Goldberg, said that the term “secure and recognized boundaries” which appeared in both the American and British draft resolutions clearly meant boundaries different from both the 1949 armistice lines and the cease-fire lines created the Six-Day War. The personal views expressed by a minister at a party meeting cannot in any way affect the validity of authorized statements by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, the Cabinet said today.

Foreign Minister Eban, at a press conference in Tel Aviv Friday, anticipated the Cabinet stand when he declared that “there is no international authority that can give the Nov. 22 resolution an interpretation which demands Israel’s retreat to the June 4, 1967 borders.”

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol, in a radio speech last night, outlined the Government’s official policy on the question of the West Bank territories. He said that Israel would insist on the Jordan River as Israel’s “security border” with Jordan but added that the Government made a distinction between a “security border” and a “political border.” Informed sources later took this to mean that while Israel might agree to return part of the West Bank to Jordan, it would never allow Jordanian military forces west of the Jordan River.

Mr. Eshkol stated further that when boundaries between Israel and its neighbors are finally drawn, “account must be taken of Israel’s historic right to the land of Israel but without ignoring the fact of the Arab population concentrations in certain areas.” As long as no political settlement is reached, Israel will stay on the present cease-fire lines, Mr. Eshkol added. The Prime Minister’s radio statement and Mr. Eban’s press conference remarks were obviously directed at Gen. Dayan who, in addition to calling for an outright rejection of the Nov. 22 resolution, asserted that the territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean was a “single entity,” and rejected the plan proposed by Labor Minister Yigal Allon to partition the West Bank into an Israeli security zone facing Jordan and Arab enclave embracing the heavily populated Arab centers in the mountainous hinterland. Gen. Dayan also insisted that Israel must permanently retain its base at Sharm el Sheikh at the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba and certain other parts of the Sinai peninsula.

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