NEW YORK (Dec. 15)
Israel’s Defense Minister Gen. Moshe Dayan told a nationwide television audience today that Israel was prepared to give up “lots” of territory as the price of peace with its neighbors and affirmed that his country was prepared to negotiate a permanent border with each of its neighbors.
He declared that Israel was eager to change the present cease-fire lines to permanent boundaries and was ready to work out all the details from maps at the negotiating table. Interviewed on the program “Issues and Answers” on the American Broadcasting Co. network, Gen. Dayan said Israel wants peace and relations with its neighbors. “We want to negotiate the borders. We do not want to go back to the old borders. We want new lines,” he said. Much of the interview covered the ground of his speech Saturday night at the United Jewish Appeal dinner here, with Gen. Dayan reiterating his belief that the U.S. could improve its relationships with the Arab states without having to do so at the expense of Israel. He said he did not think the U.S. would discard old friendships to buy new ones. To one of a series of wide-ranging questions, as to what the U.S. could do to assure Middle East peace, Gen. Dayan said a year and a half ago the U.S. told the Soviet Union “if you go in, we go in.” This approach, he said, proved effective.
Gen. Dayan visibly showed anger when he was asked about Arab charges of atrocities and mistreatment of the Arab population of the occupied areas. “Not one Arab civilian has been killed.” he exclaimed. He challenged his questioner to provide photographs or other evidence of Israeli misdeeds as charged by the Arabs. The general bristled again when asked whether the recent “heavy raid” on the Iraqis based in Jordan would not escalate the border difficulties. He retorted that the raid was not heavy enough. He said the Iraqi and El Fatah were not attacking Israel as a matter of reprisal or as the result of escalation. They were in Jordan, he said, for the express purpose of carrying out attacks on Israel and violating the cease-fire. He conceded that King Hussein might be hurt by the Israeli reprisal raids but he pointed out that no sovereign ruler could permit an outside force to operate from his territory violating the cease-fire agreement he had signed.
GENERAL TELLS UJA DELEGATES OF CONCERN ABOUT SOVIET INVOLVEMENT
Addressing more than 3,000 delegates to the 30th national conference of the United Jewish Appeal here Saturday, Gen. Dayan said, “Soviet policy in the area is causing us considerable concern. The Soviets are supplying Egypt and Syria with great amounts of arms and armaments and are inciting them as well as training and organizing their forces.” He warned that “such a Soviet policy can lead the Arabs, if they get the green light and promised support from the Soviets, to resume the war.” Gen. Dayan said Israel wanted “peace in place of the armistice agreements” and “new and secure borders in place of the old armistice lines.” He declared that Israel “has no confidence in United Nations peace-keeping forces as a means of insuring the rights of navigation through the Straits of Tiran.”
Gen. Dayan said the Arabs recognize that they have no chance of victory in an all-out war – “thus the artillery attacks along the Suez Canal and the Jordanian attempts to harass our settlements in the Jordan Valley.” He said the U.S. could prevent another war and lay the groundwork for peace by “providing two elements which Israel cannot do by itself – supplying weapons which we cannot produce and discouraging the Russians from intervening in the area.”
Gen. Dayan said that as the de facto government in the occupied area, Israel “must and should consider the Arabs living there not as enemies but as people toward whom we have a governmental responsibility, the responsibility to provide them with the services and the conditions that can enable them to lead as normal a life as possible. We have a capacity to provide them with all this and we are doing so in spite of possible risks that may be involved.”
VISITS NIXON AND EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE IN CONTINUING U.S. SUPPORT
Gen. Dayan paid a courtesy call on President-elect Nixon at the latter’s Hotel Pierre headquarters in New York on Saturday. Emerging after a half-hour meeting, he told newsmen he was confident that there would be no diminution of U.S. support for Israel, adding, “Certainly not after this morning’s meeting.” He said further that he believed it would be to Israel’s advantage if the U.S. improved its relations with the Arab world since the U.S. would then be able to exert greater influence over the militant Arab states and counter the growing influence of the Soviet Union. Gen. Dayan said he was convinced that improved American-Arab relations could be achieved without altering America’s traditional support of Israel.
The Israeli Defense Minister was obviously trying to calm fears aroused in some Israeli circles and among American Jews by a suggestion by William W. Scranton, Mr. Nixon’s fact-finding envoy to the Middle East, that the U.S. should pursue “a more even-handed policy” in the region. He conceded that most Israelis “didn’t exactly like” that remark. He said, however, that greater American influence in Egypt, Syria and Iraq might be helpful. Mr. Scranton returned here Thursday from a week-long tour of the Middle East during which he visited four Arab countries, Iran and Israel. He reportedly told Mr. Nixon at a briefing Friday that tensions between the countries of the region were “extremely explosive” and that the U.S. could ease them by showing its friendliness toward the Arab states. “If there is not a peaceful solution in the very near future in the Middle East, the threat of raids and counter-raids will increase,” he reportedly told the President-elect. Mr. Scranton is said to have reported that he found the dominant impression among the Arab states to be that the U.S. was prejudiced toward Israel. He was also said to have told Mr. Nixon that the Arab world was not totally committed to the destruction of Israel and that the Arabs “can live with a non-expansionist Israel.”
(Reports from Cairo today said that Mr. Nixon has assured the Arabs that the U.S. continues “to search for justice” in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The President-elect’s remark was contained in a message from Mr. Nixon to Abdel Khalek Hassouna, secretary-general of the Arab League in reply to a congratulatory message Mr. Hassouna sent on Mr. Nixon’s victory last month.)