NEW YORK (May. 19)
Prime Minister Golda Meir of Israel said her country would be “much happier” if the U.S. and other countries saw the situation in the Middle East as Israelis did. but she asserted that “if I am to choose a good press in the world with many things about an Israel that isn’t here any more, or unfair criticism of an Israel that is still in existence, then I choose the latter.”
In an interview with Hedley Donovan, editor in chief, and Henry Grunewald, managing editor of Time, appearing in the current issue of the magazine, Mrs. Meir expressed conviction that, in the same circumstances, the U.S. and other countries would act “exactly as we are.” She said Israelis were vitally interested in an understanding between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, “but to say it very bluntly, not at our expense.”
Mrs. Meir told her interviewers that she found no difference in the mood of President Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and said that while Israel did not believe a new war was imminent, “we have to be prepared also in case we misjudge.” She pointed out that “if we lose a war, for us that is the last war. Then we are not here any more. If one doesn’t understand this, then one doesn’t understand our obstinacy.”
Asked how she visualized a settlement, Mrs. Meir declared: “Agreed, secure boundaries. Both adjectives have equal importance.” She declined to discuss what these boundaries would be, asserting that when Col. Nasser comes to the negotiation table, the boundaries will be worked out. She stressed, however, that Israel would never permit Syrian reoccupation of the Golan Heights.
Asked what Israel would do if the Big Four agreed on a Middle East settlement that Israel did not like, Mrs. Meir said she had “no illusions” about the difficulties that would arise but insisted that “we will say no. It won’t be easy.” Asked why she thought the Arabs would respect a signed agreement in view of her references to “Arab perfidy,” Mrs. Meir said the answer was in the phrase, “secure borders.” She made it clear that the new borders would have to be wide enough to prevent Israel from being cut in two and she stressed that “I am not prepared that anybody should safeguard for me the free shipping through the Strait of Tiran.” She said that Foreign Minister Abba Eban “will never have to do what I had to do in 1957: To stand up before the United Nations and say, we will withdraw. I did it on behalf of the Government, but that was not my greatest hour.”