JERUSALEM (Mar. 2)
Foreign Minister Eban reacted angrily to Egyptian President Nasser’s New York Times interview today in which Col. Nasser predicted a new war unless Israel withdrew from every inch of territory occupied in the 1967 war and repatriated all Palestinian refugees who left since 1948. Mr. Eban called Col. Nasser’s remarks to correspondent C. L. Sulzberger “a startling rejection of political truths and human values,” and said he would “discuss the implications of the statements with other governments and with Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring,” the UN special peace envoy.
Mr. Sulzberger reported that Col. Nasser spoke to him for two hours at the Presidential residence in Cairo on Feb. 26 in the presence of his close friend, Mohammed Hassanein Heykal, editor of the Cairo daily A1 Ahram. “Mr. Nasser estimates that there are more than one million Palestinian Arab refugees.” Mr. Sulzberger reported. “He gives the impression that he does not expect Israel to accept a political solution on the terms he suggests and that therefore a solution must be found by other means.”
Mr. Eban, whose comments were published today in the daily Haaretz, declared that it was “evident among other things that Nasser effectively rejects the Security Council’s resolution of November, 1967 for the establishment of permanent peace with Israel in secure and recognized boundaries.” He added. “We must regard all contrary declarations by Egyptian spokesmen as null and void.”
Mr. Eban said the Nasser interview “confirms all the most negative interpretations of Egyptian policy. The author of the 1967 war is the saboteur of peace in 1969. Nasser’s policy is no peace, no recognition, no negation, no establishment of secure and recognized boundaries, no acknowledgement of Israel’s sovereignty, no freedom of navigation in the Suez Canal, no agreement on arms limitation.”
Mr. Sulzberger said Col. Nasser expressed admiration for El Fatah, the principle Palestinian guerrilla organization, which he likened to the resistance movements in Europe and the Philippines in World War II. Col. Nasser expressed readiness to resume diplomatic relations with the U.S. which he severed in 1967 but said there were serious difficulties, such as the sale of Phantom jet fighter-bombers to Israel which he saw as encouragement of Israel’s continued occupation of Arab territories. Mr. Sulzberger reported that the Egyptian leader played down the role of Soviet aid and the Russian presence in his country. He said Moscow had sent large arms shipments to make up 1967 war losses but to date Egypt’s armed strength does not exceed its pre-war strength. He said there were only 1,000 Russian technicians and training personnel in Egypt, “a figure far smaller than that mentioned by some Cairo diplomats.” Mr. Sulzberger noted. Col. Nasser also claimed that Jews in Egypt enjoyed all the rights of Egyptian citizens and were free to emigrate if they wished, “a statement that is contested by foreign observers,” Mr. Sulzberger remarked.
Mr. Eban appeared to consider it ironic that some diplomatic sources thought Col. Nasser’s remarks in an interview published in Newsweek magazine recently had showed moderation. He said that today’s interview confirmed “what I said after his Newsweek interview. He envisages a policy in two stages. First, the restoration of the fragile and insecure armistice lines of June 4,1967; second the effective liquidation of Israel through terrorist action combined with the introduction of enough Arabs into what remains of Israel to ensure our country’s conversion into an Arab state. His encouragement of those who murder people in supermarkets and passengers in civil aircraft is a true index of his char- acter,” Mr. Eban said. Referring to Mr. Sulzberger’s report that Col. Nasser regarded all Israeli leaders as “hawks,” Mr. Eban declared, “Anybody who wants Israel to exist and survive in peace with its neighbors is a hawk in Nasser’s eyes. Nasser regards Israel’s very existence as an offense which can only be expiated by its destruction. It is not from such sources as Nasser in the present mood of his policy that peace will come,” Mr. Eban said.