State Department Says Mrs. Meir’s Criticism of Rogers’ Speech Was Unjustified

A State Department spokesman said yesterday that Israel’s criticism of America’s Middle East stand as enunciated by Secretary of State William P. Rogers last week was unjustified. The spokesman referred to a caustic comment by Israel’s Premier Golda Meir in Jerusalem on Friday that the American Secretary of State was “moralizing” about expansionism but disregarded Israel’s serious security situation.

Mr. Rogers’ speech brought expressions of dismay from Israeli circles. They were especially disturbed over his proposal that Israel withdraw from the occupied Arab territories, except for some “insubstantial” border adjustments. The Israelis maintained that territorial questions are a subject for negotiations with the Arab state and that the U.S. is undercutting Israel’s bargaining position.

The Department spokesman said Mrs. Meir had “missed the point” of Mr. Rogers speech. “When we talk of an Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, we talk in terms of a binding Arab commitment to a permanent peace and acceptance of recognized political boundaries by all parties.” he said.

“On matters of basic security–on the prime gut issues–we leave the matters entirely up to negotiations between the Israelis and the Egyptians.”

According to a report from London today, the American Middle East proposals presented to the Soviet Union Oct. 28 called for Israel to evacuate Egyptian territory within three months of a peace agreement. The report said that the secret text of the proposals indicated that the U.S. has moved substantially toward key demands made by the Russians and Arabs.

The U.S. proposed that Israel and Egypt, under the auspices of the United Nations peace envoy Gunnar U. Jarring, consider the questions of Israeli withdrawal, demilitarization and the possibility of an interim UN administration in the Gaza Strip, the report said.

On her speech to the Histadrut convention on Friday, Mrs. Meir said the Arabs want war and Israel wants peace but the Americans “put us both on the scales of justice so that … they shouldn’t appear to be favoring one nation over another.”

Mrs. Meir said that Israel would not accept proposals “that fall short of real peace” nor would Israel “agree to borders that make the nation vulnerable.” She said all Israel wants was what other nations have–peace with borders that are defensible. We don’t want anybody to come and fight our battles, but we have the right to demand that we not stand empty-handed against better tanks, planes and cannons.”

Mrs. Meir commented at a press conference that there is no U.S. pressure now on Israel but that if it did come, Israel would be able to withstand it. She said U.S.–Israel relations had not worsened and that “all this talk” about worsening relations was “uncalled for.”

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