JERUSALEM (Nov. 18)
Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan cited a long list of decisions by the Cabinet and other official Government bodies today to support his contention that his proposal for the economic integration of parts of the West Bank with Israel was not contrary to Government policy. Gen. Dayan’s proposal aroused criticism in some quarters, particularly from former Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir, secretary-general of the Israel Labor Party. Gen. Dayan said that if any ministers did not agree with his proposals, they could raise questions at Cabinet meetings.
He appeared before the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, today to answer questions concerning his suggestion made in Beersheba a week ago that an integrated economic entity be created embracing the Judaen Hills region from Jerusalem through Hebron and south to Beersheba. Gen. Dayan said this was not at variance with decisions by the Cabinet, by the ministerial committee for the occupied territories or by the committee of ministerial directors that preceded it. Among the decisions he mentioned was one calling for the employment of Arab labor in Israel, another recommending establishment of industrial projects in the occupied territories utilizing local Arab labor, and a third that would link the electric power system of the West Bank with Israel’s power grid. Gen Dayan also referred to decisions on a ministerial level to market Israeli goods on the West Bank and to market some West Bank produce in Israel. He said that in view of these decisions his proposal did not constitute a detour from Government policy.
The Cabinet meanwhile remained in session through most of the day continuing the political debate begun yesterday after Foreign Minister Abba Eban completed his report on Israeli diplomacy. The debate will continue at next Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting when Mr. Eban is expected to sum up the Cabinet’s views. The Foreign Minister yesterday evaluated the current situation at the United Nations and described his most recent contacts with the UN’s special peace envoy to the Middle East, Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring. He also reported that negotiations in Washington for the purchase of F-4 Phantom Jet fighter-bombers had reached “a practical stage.”
Observers here noted that whatever decisions are eventually adopted by the Cabinet, the present situation calls for no change in Israel’s basic position that peace can be achieved only through negotiations with the Arabs and that all questions must be settled within the framework of such negotiations. Prime Minister Levi Eshkol reiterated that position in his statement to the Knesset last week.
Foreign Minister Eban said in a TV interview last week that reports of differences among Cabinet members on the peace issue were greatly exaggerated by the press in Israel and abroad. He said that most Cabinet ministers agreed in principle that Israel was prepared to accept borders different from the present cease-fire lines in exchange for peace with her neighbors. Referring to reported different approaches to peace and boundary questions by Deputy Prime Minister Allon. Gen. Dayan and Minister-Without Portfolio Sapir, Mr. Eban said the views they shared were far more important than those that divided them. Speaking of the Jarring peace mission, he said he did not think the UN envoy would try to make any substantive suggestions of his own for a settlement because that was outside of his Security Council mandate.