JERUSALEM (Jun. 27)
Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan warned today that Israel must prepare itself for the possibility of another war with the Arabs. Gen. Dayan told the Israel Labor Party central committee that “we have to buy weapons, we have to make our own weapons, we have to make our Army stronger, we have to prepare airfields – and this will take much money.” He added that “we have time, territory and the power of rule. We know the area – it is defined -but we do not know how much time. He emphasized that Israel could not “escape from preparing for a renewal of war against us.”
Mr. Eshkol said that ‘Israel’s prime desire remains peace but the key is with Egypt, which prevents peace with Jordan.” He warned that Israel would resist all pressures until a peace treaty with the Arabs was signed. He declared that the United States had shown friendship and understanding for Israel, despite differences of opinion over such matters as the status of Jerusalem. The Premier added that it should be clear to all that Israel would not relinquish its rule over unified Jerusalem but, he continued, there was the possibility that the “legitimate interests” of the world’s religions with respect to their Holy Places could be safeguarded by an Israeli agreement with their institutions.
General Dayan reiterated that technically and economically, the Arab states had regained the level of strength they had before the Six-Day War. He declared that the Arabs had acquired ground-to-ground missiles with a range of nearly 40 miles. Asserting the Arabs were not yet ready for war despite their rearmament, Gen. Dayan warned that, in the Arab world, political and military motives can get mixed up. Pressed by “explosive forces,” the Arab rulers may again “jump into ventures for which they are not prepared,” he said, adding that Israel cannot discount this danger. He reported also that since the end of the Six-Day War, 184 Israelis had been killed and 617 wounded, including the crew of the Eilat, a destroyer sunk by the Egyptians using a Soviet-made missile last summer. He said most of the Israeli casualties had occurred on a 20-mile stretch between Lake Tiberias and Tirat Avi in the Jordan Valley. He added that settlements in that area should be given maximum help. Israel’s main task for the present, he stated, must be to vanquish the El Fatah terrorists and to continue cooperation with the Arab population of the occupied areas.