WASHINGTON (Sep. 28)
Mrs. Golda Meir told a nationwide television audience today that Israel disagreed with the United States over the U.S.-Soviet and Big Four talks aimed at a Middle East peace settlement. She also said that she sees no progress toward peace much to her “sorrow” but that she was convinced that “my grandchildren will live in an era of peace.”
The Premier said that a strong Israel was “the best guarantee for peace” and the “best incentive” because the Arabs “would not have to make peace with a weak Israel that can be thrown into the sea.” Mrs. Meir spoke on the National Broadcasting Co. television program, “Meet The Press.” her first nationwide television appearance since she arrived here on a state visit last week.
The Israeli leader replied negatively when asked if her Government was willing to submit a map as an “asking price” for peace negotiations with the Arabs. “Maps we will draw during negotiations.” she said. “Before we have partners there is no point in drawing maps among ourselves.” Asked to explain how Israel could say that “everything was negotiable” when it has annexed East Jerusalem and established settlements in the Golan Heights, Mrs. Meir said. “The Arabs may bring up the question of Jerusalem” but that does not mean “that we don’t have ideas where we will be after a settlement.” She added that Israel did not ask anybody “to agree to anything before we sit down.”
On the question of Palestinian refugees, the Premier said that Israel as a state has “no formal obligations” toward Arab refugees. She said the 1948 Arab-Israeli war was “100 percent the responsibility of the Arab states” which were responsible for the displacement of the refugees. She noted that Israel has accommodated over one million refugees, among them about 300,000 stateless Jews from European camps and 700,000 Jews from Moslem countries. She contrasted what Israel had done to absorb refugees with what “the Arab states have done with their brothers.” Mrs. Meir said, however, that Israel was prepared to do “its share” to alleviate the refugee problem. She said Israel has re-admitted 50,000 refugees and was willing to pay compensation to the rest.
She claimed that Russia did not want peace and was an enemy of Israel and bore major responsibility for the June, 1967 war. “We would rather sit with (President)Nasser than with (Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei A.) Gromyko. speaking for him,” Mrs. Meir said. She said that the proper role of the U.S. and the USSR might be to limit their negotiations to a search for “ways and means” to bring the two parties together and that this might be “very valuable.”
In reply to a question. Mrs. Meir angrily dismissed the contention by a Knesset member, Uri Avneri, that Israel would have to be “de-Zionized” before peace with the Arabs could be achieved. Mr. Avneri, a Tel Aviv editor, comprises the one-man Haolam Hazeh faction in the Israeli Parliament noted for its unorthodox views. Mrs. Meir snapped that Mr. Avneri “is active in de-Zionizing Israel while men are dying every day.” She claimed that no Israeli attached any importance to his position.
NIXON SPEAKS OF ‘BETTER UNDERSTANDING’ BUT DOES NOT MENTION JETS
President Richard M. Nixon, terminating two days of intensive discussion with Mrs. Meir, said Friday that the American Government had no new decisions to announce regarding the Middle East but that “we have a better understanding” of how to proceed toward a solution of the outstanding issues.
In an appearance with Mrs. Meir before the press, Mr. Nixon made no mention of Israel’s expressed desire to obtain additional Phantom jets and financial assistance to help meet defense needs. The President heaped praise upon Mrs. Meir but said he was not announcing any new decisions. (Israel has received about $1,160,300,000 in all kinds of aid in the past 20 years. JTA reported Incorrectly last Thursday that the figure was $25 billion.)
Mr. Nixon stressed that the “very extensive private talks” had produced understanding but no new decisions. He said that some progress toward a solution of the complex Middle East problem “could” come from the meetings but that he used the word “could” because he wanted to be “very realistic” and conscious of the complex issues involved.
The President disclosed that he discussed a wide range of world problems with Mrs. Meir and “even the problem of youth.” He commended her understanding and said he found her counsel valuable. Mr. Nixon said that he discussed with Mrs. Meir all matters speculated upon in the press. This apparently included a front page story in a leading Washington evening newspaper, the Star, which said that the President “is pushing Premier Golda Meir to declare publicly that Israel will withdraw from occupied Arab lands as part of a negotiated peace with the Arab states.” This reported Nixon approach was portrayed as a move to gain momentum for Big Power peace efforts now under way at the United Nations.
Mr. Nixon made clear that he did not expect the Arab-Israeli dispute to be susceptible to “instant diplomacy” because it was based upon long existing differences. But he thought that ways must try to be found to promote peace and better understanding.
Mrs. Meir replied that she reported to Israel that she found Nixon a friend who understood Israel’s difficulties. She said that she believed that efforts for peace must be pursued “not only for Israel but also for the tens of millions of Arabs and others in the various countries.” She said that she told Mr. Nixon that “the people of both of our countries” are dedicated to real peace,” not “something that is makeshift.” Her vision of peace encompassed the rest of the world as well as the Middle East, she declared. Mrs. Meir said she wanted to express her “extreme appreciation” for the time spent with the President. She said she was pleased that she could go home and report that Mr. Nixon cared about her country. Israeli officials later characterized the Meir-Nixon talks as successful and useful.
MRS. MEIR SAYS ‘NO PRESSURE WHATSOEVER’ FOR WITHDRAWAL HAD BEEN APPLIED
Mrs. Meir said in a Friday address before the National Press Club that “no pressure whatsoever” had been exerted upon Israel to withdraw from occupied territories. She addressed the club before her final meeting with the President. Mrs. Meir proclaimed that “we won’t budge one inch before there is a peace settlement.”
Asked if she obtained additional military jet aircraft from Mr. Nixon, she said that “there has been a policy followed by the U.S. Government of sensitivity to the balance of power in the Middle East. This is the policy that is being followed now, and I have reason to believe that it will be followed also in the future.” She said she would not make a secret of the fact that the meetings had been very friendly and pleasant. She said, however, that there was some “disagreement even between very friendly governments.”
Mrs. Meir stressed that Israel sought peace and “we are prepared to enter negotiations” if the Arabs send a delegation to meet face to face with Israelis. If the Arabs will accept Israel’s existence, peace is possible, she said. In that case, “everything(apparently including boundaries) is open for discussion.” Israel requires borders that are secure, recognized, and agreed upon, she said.
Mrs. Meir said Israel would not settle for less than a real peace negotiated directly by her Arab neighbors and signed by them. “Arab leaders will have to face the responsibility of telling their people that the time has come for peace with Israel,” she said. In that event negotiations can be joined with no preconditions, she said.
On the question of internationalization of Jerusalem, Mrs. Meir said that when Jerusalem was shelled by the Jordanian Arab Legion during the 1948 Independence War of the nations, the nations of the world “did not lift a finger.” She said Jordan has expelled the Jews from Jerusalem, destroyed ancient synagogues, barred Jewish worshippers from the Wailing Wall, and otherwise violated the norms of civilized behavior.
Mrs. Meir made clear that Israel would insist upon strict respect for the United Nations cease-fire agreement of 1967. She said that if there is shooting, there will be shooting on both sides of the lines. Israel is obligated to use all means at its disposal to force strict respect for the cease-fire, she said.
GIVEN RECEPTION, ATTENDS BAR MITZVAH, MEETS DIGNITARIES
Vice president Spiro T. Agnew and the ambassadors of many nations were among guests at a reception Friday tendered in honor of Mrs. Meir by Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin. The Rumanian, German, French, West German, French, British and other envoys came to honor Mrs. Meir. Mrs. Meir met Saturday with veteran statesman W. Averell Harriman and had lunch Sunday with former vice president Hubert H. Humphrey.
Mrs. Meir Saturday attended the Bar Mitzvah of the son of an Israeli diplomat and told the boy that she hoped for peace so that he would not have to fight the Arabs. Speaking from the pulpit at Adas Israel Synagogue, Mrs. Meir responded to Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz’s Sukkot sermon. He had charged that the Arabs lusted for the “Sukkah,” represented by the modern State of Israel. The Bar Mitzvah was that of Gideon Argov, son of Shlomo Argov, minister and second ranking official of the Israeli Embassy here. Gen. Rabin and others were called to the Torah.
Mrs. Meir commented on the rabbi’s remarks on the “relevance” of the holiday to the current status of Israel. She said that what many non-Jews did not like about Jews was that the Jewish people “do not bow.” She said that the Nazis destroyed the bodies of Jews but never killed their faith. Jews went to the gas chambers chanting “we believe,” she noted. Jews may still have to pay in the future for their faith and spirit of independence, she said. But they would nevertheless “stand up straight.” Mrs. Meir said very movingly to 13-year-old Gideon that Israel had lost many youths and that he knew the younger brothers of some who would not come back. She told the boy, “I hope that you won’t have to go and fight.”
Mrs. Meir was guest of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the Capitol building. Sen. Stuart Symington, Missouri Democrat, acted as chairman in the absence of Sen. J.W. Fulbright, Arkansas Democrat. Sen. Symington said the committee was pleased to have her and to learn her thoughts. She said that she was happy to meet with “old and good friends” on the committee. Later, members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called on her at Blair house where she stayed during the official part of her visit.