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Israel Rejects U.S. Proposal for Settlement and Principle of Big 4 Meetings

The Israel Government today rejected outright a United States proposal for a Middle East settlement based on the United Nations Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 resolution and again turned down the principle of Big Four intervention in the conflict. A statement of policy read by Premier Golda Meir following the Cabinet meeting declared that “Israel is not and will not become the object of power politics or intra-power politics and will not accept any recommendation which is in conflict with her vital interests, her rights and her security.” The Israel Government’s statement reiterated its insistence on “a peace based on peace treaties” that would lay down “agreed, secure and recognized boundaries.” In the absence of such treaties, the statement asserted, Israel would “maintain and consolidate” the present cease-fire lines.

The U.S. proposals, not made public, were submitted to Britain, France and Soviet Russia and to the Israeli and Arab governments. According to Western diplomatic sources, the plan would keep Jerusalem united under Israeli rule but would return to the Arabs other territories occupied by Israel in the Six-Day War. The U.S. reportedly proposed creation of demilitarized zones and establishment of an international peace-keeping force along new Israel-Arab borders. It was said to call for a guarantee of freedom of navigation for all nations including Israel in international waterways in the region–the Suez Canal and Straits of Tiran at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. The U.S. proposals reportedly called for a solution of the Arab refugee problem that would offer a choice of permanent resettlement or financial reimbursement. The plan is said to have stressed that a settlement must be in the form of a package agreement acceptable to all parties with no point being implemented without the entire plan becoming effective. The U.S. plan, diplomats said, called on Israel and the Arab nations to cooperate in every way with UN special envoy Gunnar V. Jarring and to negotiate their settlement through him until they can agree to meet directly. Any settlement, the U.S. plan asserted, should be “contractually and reciprocally binding,” the sources said.

The U.S. proposals were reportedly greeted enthusiastically by Britain and were accepted by France as a basis for Four Power discussions, although the French had some reservations on certain points. There was no indication of the attitude of the Soviet Union.

The firm Israeli stand was announced after a cabinet debate that stemmed from the report of Foreign Minister Abba Eban on his talks with U.S. and British leaders in Washington and London earlier this month. The statement read by Mrs. Meir noted that Israel’s policy was based on the political principles that were reaffirmed by the Knesset when the new government was formed. It said: “Israel will make constant efforts to achieve a durable peace with her neighbors, a peace to be based upon peace treaties to be achieved in direct negotiations between the parties. The agreed, secure and recognized boundaries will be laid down in the peace treaties. The peace treaties will provide for cooperation and mutual aid, the solution by peaceful means of all problems at issue, and abstention from all aggression, direct or indirect. Israel will maintain her readiness to conduct negotiations–without prior conditions from any side–with any of the neighboring Arab states for the purpose of concluding peace treaties.” The statement said the Israel Government “notes with regret that in contrast to Israel’s policy of peace, the President of Egypt has declared, in a speech on March 27 that the Arab states will not recognize Israel, will not conduct negotiations with her, will not make peace with her, but will continue to perpetrate aggressive acts against her.”

Mrs. Meir said that “Israel entirely opposes the plan to convene the representatives of the states which lie outside the Middle East in order to prepare recommendations concerning the region. Such a procedure undermines the responsibility devolving on the states of the region to attain peace. Israel opposes any settlement and any procedure which is not agreed upon by the governments concerned…Israel calls upon governments and enlightened public opinion in the world to support the advancement of negotiations between the Arab states and Israel for the establishment of a true peace.

(In Cairo, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Iliad said the U.S. plan “shows complete favoritism toward Israel.” The authoritative newspaper Al Ahram said Saturday that he voiced the rejection to Dr. Jarring. The Arab nations however, were said to be supporting the Big Four initiatives.)

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