WASHINGTON (Mar. 22)
The National Jewish Welfare Board, ending its biennial convention today, passed a resolution condemning the State Department for its current Middle East policy, which it said “plays into the hands of the USSR by offering concessions that advance Soviet designs in the Middle East at Israel’s expense.” The 1000 delegates called for “essential military and economic aid” to Israel, “standing firm against Soviet pressures” and “using American influence not to draft the terms of a settlement but to bring both sides to the conference table.” The convention passed another resolution urging Jewish centers and YM-YWHA’s to “cooperate fully” with the American Jewish Conference on Soviet Jewry’s program to “ease the plight of Soviet Jews.” It also called on the White House to recommend “peace and progress” as the 25th anniversary theme of the United Nations.
Yitzhak Rabin, Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, told the delegates that no matter what setbacks Israel may face, “Israel will be strong and the people of Israel will continue to fight until peace is achieved.” He asserted that Israel was asking nothing from its allies–no troops, no promises, no guarantees–but the right to buy weapons to defend itself. The Ambassador’s declaration was made Friday, almost 24 hours before President Nixon’s press conference yesterday in which he hinted that the United States would not sell Jets to Israel at this time. Mr. Rabin stated that Israel “can take a setback but it will not reduce our fighting spirit, our belief, our determination to go on until peace is achieved.”
RABIN: SETBACKS WILL NOT REDUCE ISRAEL’S FIGHTING SPIRIT; OUTLINES PEACE PREREQUISITES
Focussing on the chances for peace or for war in the Mideast, Mr. Rabin offered four prerequisites for peace: Direct negotiations between Israel and the Arabs; recognition of Israel’s existence by the Arabs; Arab acceptance of Israel’s continuation and open boundaries between the involved parties. “We don’t believe peace can be maintained if people are not allowed to talk to one another.” Mr. Rabin said. Of the Arab position, he commented: “I can’t understand how so many people can hate so much for such a long time and go into three wars–and lose all three-with a country that ‘does not exist.’ The Ambassador said that Israel would not accept any substitute for his prerequisites. He said they defined whether Israel had the right to exist as an independent country. “There can be no compromise,” he said, “because no one has found a compromise between being alive and being dead.”
Mr. Rabin said that realistically, “Prospects for peace are very limited for the foreseeable future” because the Soviet Union was trying to keep things stirred up so that it would have reason to be In the Middle East. He said also that there will be no war “as long as we have the means by which to defend ourselves.” Israel possesses that capability today, he noted, but unless it gets more weapons, the arms balance in the Middle East will be loaded in favor of the Arabs in two or three years.”