JERUSALEM (Dec. 22)
The Israeli Government today flatly rejected the latest American initiatives for a Middle East peace settlement, declaring that if they were ever to be put into effect, “the security and welfare of Israel would be in very grave danger.”
The statement, issued by the Cabinet after an emergency session, was phrased in blunt language that left little doubt about Israel’s anger and apprehension over plans recently proposed by the United States that would have Israel withdraw entirely from the Sinai Peninsula and from virtually all of the occupied West Bank of the Jordan.
“Israel will not be a victim of power politics or inter-power politics and will reject any attempt to impose upon her a forced solution,” the Cabinet said.
The American plan for a solution of the Israeli-Egyptian aspects of the Middle East conflict were submitted privately to the Soviet Union last Oct. 28. They were disclosed by Secretary of State William P. Rogers in a speech in Washington Dec. 9. Detailed American proposals for an Israeli-Jordanian solution, including a plan to repatriate some Palestinian refugees, was presented by the U.S. last Thursday to the three other major powers–Soviet Union, Britain and France–meeting in New York. The plan reportedly reiterated Secretary Rogers’ Dec. 9 recommendation that a unified Jerusalem be governed jointly by Israel and Jordan.
The Israeli Cabinet rejected the proposals as “an infringement on Israeli sovereignty insofar as they concern the settlement of Arab refugees in Israel and the status of Jerusalem.” The Cabinet statement charged that the U.S. proposals “ignore the fact that secure and agreed frontiers must be part of peace treaties arrived at through direct negotiations” and warned that they would be “interpreted by the aggressive Arab rulers as an effort to appease them at the expense of Israel.”
Today’s Cabinet session was called by Premier Golda Meir to consider what has been described here as a “crisis of confidence” in Israel’s relations with the U.S. Reporting to his colleagues was Foreign Minister Abba Eban who returned Sunday night from a visit to the United States and Britain. Mr. Eban conferred at length last week with Secretary Rogers in Washington. Also participating was Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, who was summoned home for the meeting.
Gen. Rabin was recalled after he reported to the Prime Minister the contents of the latest American plans which the State Department communicated to him only after they had been presented to the Big Four. Foreign Minister Eban charged on his return yesterday that the American plan was withheld from him during his two and a half hour meeting with Secretary Rogers only two days before it was submitted to the Four Powers. Mr. Eban said, “Israel will oppose with all its strength every effort to fix restrictive conditions prior to negotiations.” He said every such effort “must be seen as a blow to peace.”
That feeling was reflected in today’s Cabinet statement which called the “disquieting initiatives” by the U.S. “a serious blow to the prospects of reaching a peace settlement.” The Cabinet held that the proposals “contain no real obligation on the part of the Arab states to put an end to the warlike operations of the terror and sabotage organizations.”
The statement recalled that “in 1967, Israel stood alone in the face of immense forces that sought her destruction. Since then she has not stopped proposing to the Arab states that they should enter peace negotiations. The Arab governments on their part have not stopped refusing to make peace. They continue in their aggression and announce their preparations for a new all-out war.”
The statement continued, “in all the years of her existence, Israel has adhered to a policy of peace with her neighbors. At the end of the Six-Day War, the Cabinet reiterated Israel’s willingness to conclude a lasting peace with the Arab states arrived at through direct negotiations free of prior conditions on which each side would be free to table any proposals. This policy is in conformity with the law of nations and the international rules governing a transition from war to peace. The Government of Israel will continue to bear the responsibility for the security, the welfare and the rights of the Israeli nation in its land.”