Eshkol Says Foundation of Settlement Must Be a Signed Peace Agreement

Prime Minister Levi Eshkol said today that the foundation of any settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors must be “a real peace agreement signed by the parties concerned.” He said that without a formal peace the Components of a settlement, including agreed and secure boundaries, could not exist and the cease-fire map would remain in force. Mr. Eshkol spoke in the Knesset (Parliament) where he delivered his “State of the Nation” address. His remarks were followed by a general debate in which some coalition members, notably Herut, Joined opposition parties In demanding that the Government increase the pace of Jewish settlement in the occupied territories and fortify the region.

Mr. Eshkol’s remarks constituted a summary of the current situation. He said that the Arab guerrilla war of terror and sabotage against Israel had failed and that as a result of living for more than a year under Israeli rule, Arab attitudes in the occupied territories had changed. “The curtain of hostility and fear which the Arab rulers established between ourselves and their peoples has perhaps been slightly lifted,” he said. On the other hand, Mr. Eshkol warned, the Arab states are stronger militarily than they were in June, 1967 owing to arms supplies from the Soviet Union. He said that Egypt has one-and-a-half times as many fighter-bombers as it had In the Six-Day War. But Israel’s strength has also Increased greatly, he added, noting that Israel’s Air Force has fully absorbed the Skyhawk fighter-bombers, subsonic planes delivered from the United States earlier this year.

The Prime Minister said that Israel’s conditions for peace include free passage through the Straits of Tiran which command the route to Israel’s port of Eilat. He said peace would lead to regional cooperation and the solution of various problems including that of the Arab refugees within a regional and international framework.

Mr. Eshkol stressed that “readiness for peace leads to direct negotiations and absence of direct contact is tantamount to non-recognition” which precluded peace. He blamed Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser for the lack of progress toward peace and cited Egypt’s Oct. 26 artillery attack across the Suez Canal. He said that according to Mr. Nasser’s most recent public statements. “Egypt will be satisfied only by a new assault on the very existence of Israel. He (Nasser) appears to be aiming not at the status quo ante of June 5, 1967 but at the status quo ante of Nov. 2, 1917, the day the Balfour Declaration was announced.” He said that as long as Egypt treats Arab terrorists “like pampered children” and considers peace something that Israel wants for ulterior motives, Egypt’s support of the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 peace resolution “can be regarded only as hypocrisy.”

Prime Minister Eshkol said Israel regards the development of united Jerusalem as its capital as a matter of first priority but added that this depends, as do so many other goals of Israel, on increased Immigration. He referred to the establishment of Nahal – paramilitary settlements – around Israel’s frontiers as “a heavy burden and great challenge to Jewish youth.” But its realization, he said, depends on strengthening bonds between Israel and the Jewish people abroad. He urged a “supreme effort” in the economic sphere “to work more, save more and export more.”

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