TEL AVIV (Aug. 6)
Prime Minister Golda Meir was on record today with notice that even if prospects for peace arose in the Middle East, Israel will not “forego one inch of land if it means endangering our security borders.” The 71-year-old Mrs. Meir, exhausted after the convention of her own Israel Labor Party, spoke last night at a joint meeting of the party and the Mapam Party in Mann Auditorium here. It was the first such meeting since the two parties entered into a political alignment and it marked the beginning of the campaign for next October’s parliamentary elections.
The election will be fought on three levels — for seats in the Knesset, for representation in the governing councils of Histadrut, Israel’s powerful labor federation, and for offices in municipalities and other local bodies. The Israel Labor Party and Mapam will appear on a common list. Both parties have approved a common platform for the Histadrut and local elections. But they have yet to approve the Knesset platform which was incomplete when their conventions ended. Three controversial planks dealing with security borders, foreign policy and policy in the occupied Arab territories were referred by each party to its central committees for final decision.
Israel’s security appeared uppermost in Premier Meir’s mind when she said, calmly and deliberately: “We shall measure every centimeter to ascertain which border in truth will assure us of peace, There may be disagreement, but the decisive thing is what will ensure peace, not only for one day but for all times.”
MRS. MEIR DEFENDS LABOR-MAPAM ALIGNMENT, STRESSES NEED FOR UNITY
Mrs. Meir said that Foreign Minister Abba Eban was right when he said at the convention that Israel was not alone in the world. But, she added, “while our friends stand by us on vital issues, we are certainly not pampered by them. We need the strength some times to stand up to our friends and even oppose them.”
Mrs. Meir defended the Labor-Mapam alignment which has been criticized by some elements in both parties. She said it was not an expedient alliance of two political camps but “the logical conclusion of 50 years of arguments and great deeds. The main thing is to seek what unites us rather than points of division. Peace is still far off. War is very much with us. We can discuss and argue about future borders but it is only an argument. What matters is not argument but performance.”
Pinhas Saphir, secretary-general of the Israel Labor Party, said there was no dissension at the convention “despite our enemies’ predictions” and added, “We are fully prepared to embark on the election campaign.”
EBAN MAKES SLASHING ATTACK ON DAYAN’S ‘STRATEGIC BORDER’ PROPOSALS
Foreign Minister Eban has sharply rejected an Israel Labor Party platform plank on Israel’s “strategic borders” proposed by Defense Minister Dayan and, in effect, challenged Gen, Dayan’s supporters to leave the party.
Mr. Eban spoke at the closing session of the Labor Party convention yesterday, The sharpness of his remarks, which were apparently not cleared with all of the Labor Party’s leaders, aroused new fear of a schism within party ranks. Members of the Rafi faction which is headed by Gen. Dayan, have already demanded a “clarification.” But Mr. Eban, anticipating the reaction, told the convention he was not afraid of a split and said the party should reconcile itself to that possibility. He added that it would win the elections in any event.
The proposals which Gen. Dayan said should constitute an “unwritten” plank in the Labor Party’s election platform, spelled out in detail what Israel would consider to be its strategic frontiers. They called for permanent retention of the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and a section of the Sinai peninsula that would link Israel with the Sharm el-Sheikh strong point commanding the Gulf of Aqaba. Gen. Dayan also proposed that the Jordan River be established as Israel’s eastern “security frontier.”
NO PRIOR CONDITIONS IN TALKS WITH ARABS, EBAN INSISTS
Mr. Eban stated flatly that he was opposed to “unwritten” platforms. What counts, he said, is the written platform which speaks of “secure and agreed boundaries.” He said Israel’s readiness to enter peace negotiations with any Arab state without prior conditions was the “overriding policy principle” of the party platform. He said it was decided deliberately not to include geographical definitions in the platform and to keep its wording entirely in the realm of principles. Mr. Eban criticized Gen. Dayan’s use of the term “strategic borders;” observing that secure borders implied that they must be strategic.
Mr. Eban was supported by Deputy Premier Yigal Allon who also criticized Gen. Dayan’s proposals to integrate the West Bank economy with that of adjacent areas of Israel. Owing to the controversy, the platform planks on security, foreign policy and policies in the occupied territories were referred to the party’s central committee for final decision.