JERUSALEM (Jul. 11)
Israel today saw no change in Egyptian policy emerging from President Nasser’s week of talks with Soviet leaders in Moscow which ended yesterday. The first official comment on those talks was made at a press conference here tonight by Ambassador Gideon Rafael, director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, who was sharply critical of the joint Soviet-Egyptian statement issued prior to Nasser’s departure from Moscow.
The statement said that peace in the Middle East “must be based on the lawful rights of the Arab peoples, including the Arab population of Palestine.” There was not even a hint, said Mr. Rafael, of the rights of the Jewish people which include life, sovereignty and peace. Nor, he said, did the Moscow statement make any reference to the tried and accepted method of settling international disputes around the negotiating table, such as the current Vietnam peace talks. “The only arena where the conflict can be brought to an end and which Egypt has so far refused to try out is the negotiating table,” he said.
He observed that the Arabs of late have begun to regard the problem of their dispute with Israel on two levels. One is the 1967 war and the other is the existence of Israel itself. They think that if they bring about the “liquidation of the consequences” of the June war they will still be free to dispute the existence of Israel, Mr. Rafael said. This, he added, is not included among the problems that Nasser wants to settle by “political means.”
He said that the “solution of the refugee problem” has always meant, in the Egyptian terminology, the return of the refugees to what is now Israel. He noted that the Egyptian leader said, in a German television interview some time ago, that the return of the refugees will mean the destruction of Israel. When Egypt ties in a refugee solution with the opening of the Suez Canal, he is misinterpreting the Security Council’s resolution of last November and is in fact using the question of the refugees as a means for perpetuating the Arab-Israeli conflict, the diplomat said.
The head of the Foreign Ministry said that Israel could not accept the phrase in the Moscow statement which promises continued Soviet arms support for the defense of Egypt. “Since 1955 an unending stream of all types of weapons has been supplied by the Soviet Union including weapons meant for attack and aggression,” he said. “These have been used to attack Israel. If Moscow wants the conflict ended in accordance with the Security Council’s resolution of last November, as stated in the joint announcement, then it must recommend the signing of a formal and regular peace treaty. So far no hint of this has been forthcoming either from Moscow or Cairo,” Mr. Rafael said.