Eban Tells Cabinet Proposals Made by Soviet Union on Mideast Peace Are Unacceptable

Foreign Minister Abba Eban told the Cabinet today that proposals made by the Soviet Union recently for a Middle East settlement were totally unacceptable to Israel even as a basis or framework for discussion. Mr. Eban said that Washington and London have kept Israel informed of the latest Soviet moves. Russia, he said, persists in demanding Israel’s withdrawal from all occupied Arab territories without a peace treaty, without practical guarantees of freedom of navigation in international waters, and without a contractual basis for future relations with the Arabs.

Mr. Eban drew the Cabinet’s attention to the statement by United States Secretary of State Dean Rusk at his press conference last Friday that peace in the Middle East depended upon agreement between the states in the area which have the responsibility of arriving at the conditions necessary for coexistence. (Mr. Rusk also urged the Arabs to “restrain terrorist activity” and the Israelis to remember that “excessive retaliation” may bring “catastrophic” results for the Middle East. “The terrorists on the Arab side have to accept a very heavy responsibility for their unwillingness to accept the cease-fire lines…One can understand how impatient the Israelis get from time to time when these terrorist raids continue, raids for which the Arab governments do not accept direct responsibility,” he added.)

Mr. Eban disclosed that Israel has warned Lebanon that it views with gravity the rocket attacks on the town of Kiryat Shmona in Upper Galilee which was fired on twice this weekend from Lebanese territory. He said Israel had asked Lebanese authorities to take appropriate steps to insure observance of the cease-fire. Michael Arnon, secretary of the Cabinet, declined to reveal how the warning was conveyed to the Beirut authorities. It was believed to have been through the embassy of a friendly nation. No one was injured in the two attacks, but three civilians were killed last week in a rocket attack on Kiryat Shmona.

Mr. Eban, at a press conference earlier, rejected all proposals for coordinated Big Power action on the Middle East crisis, declaring that machinery was in existence for Israel-Arab meetings for peace. The machinery, he said, was the mission of Dr. Gunnar V. Jarring under the mandate of a Security Council Nov. 22, 1967 resolution. He said peace negotiations offered the only possible change in the existing Mideast situation, which he called grave but not explosive. He said it was still possible to check “eruptions” in time and in ways which would not undermine the cease-fire structure created after the Six-Day War. He said the crux of the Mideast problem would be whether Arab governments would take responsibility for activities of terrorists operating from their territories or whether it would be left to international public opinion to treat such activities as actions for which no one was to be held responsible.

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