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Mrs. Meir Says Her Policy on Peace As Premier Would Be As ‘tough’ As Eshkol’s

Mrs. Golda Meir’s policy, if she becomes Premier of Israel, will be “fully as tough and unbending as that of the late Levi Eshkol” and will be based on the thesis that “the only possible road to peace is by direct negotiations with the Arab States,” the Washington Post reported today from Jerusalem. Correspondent Alfred Friendly, writing of an interview with Mrs. Meir, also declared that she “ruled out today any chance of an acceptable solution to the Middle East conflict emerging from discussions by the big powers.” Mrs. Meir was asked about the possibility of the Soviet Union agreeing on terms acceptable to Israel and inducing Egypt to take them as well. She was quoted in reply: “It will never happen. If Russia were capable of preparing a peace plan acceptable to us, and had enough influence on President Nasser to get him to agree, then it has enough influence on him to say, “for God’s sake, sit down with the Israelis and make peace directly.”

Mrs. Meir said that she did not see any new or different approaches Israel might take at this time, but she rejected the contention that for Israel to cling to its present set of demands would inevitably lead to war. “I could,” she pointed out, “lead to continuation of the status quo, or to peace.” She stressed that the Arabs had not yet concluded that they were prepared to live in peace with Israel and accept Israel as a state with a right to exist. Until they do so, she told the interviewer, Israel had no alternative to its present course. Mrs. Meir returned repeatedly to the theme that there could be no peace until the Arabs were ready for it. She reminded Mr. Friendly that “for 20 years now, we’ve been asking one question: Are the Arabs prepared to live with us? We’ve received no answer. You say Jordan is? Well, if so, let the Jordanians say it publicly. We don’t expect them to agree with all our proposals or say ‘yes’ to everything we put before them. But let them meet us, sit down at a table with us.”

She asserted that neither King Hussein nor Col. Nasser had prepared their people to hear them say that they had concluded to meet with the Israelis to negotiate an honorable peace. She remarked that “you can’t make peace underground. How else can there be peace than by direct talks?” Mrs. Meir stressed again that “as long as the Arabs won’t sit down with us, that means they can’t accept our existence.” If she becomes Prime Minister, Mrs. Meir said, she would make one condition “absolutely essential: Nasser must conclude that peace is not something he can give to Israel as a luxury or fulfillment of its needs, but as something at least as necessary for his people as for the Israelis. It’s not a present for him to give us. It’s something that his children, the children of the Nile Valley, need as much as we.”

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