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Mrs. Meir: Israel Welcomes U.s.peace Initiative; Will Not Accept Conditional Cease-fire

Premier Golda Meir told the Knesset today that Israel welcomed the new United States initiative for peace in the Middle East but will never accept a conditional cease-fire with a time limit attached. According to unofficial reports from several capitals, a 90-day cease-fire in the Suez Canal zone is the first phase of the plan that Secretary of State William P. Rogers has proposed to Israel and the Arab states. Mrs. Meir said she could not disclose the contents of the Rogers proposals because the U.S. government did not desire their publication at this time. She referred to the temporary cease-fire offered by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, of Egypt, in a television interview broadcast in the U.S. two weeks ago. She claimed that a cease-fire of limited duration would only serve Nasser’s war aims by giving him an interval to strengthen Egyptian fortifications in the canal zone and especially to install Soviet SAM-3 anti-aircraft missiles along the waterway. “Were his (Nasser’s) proposals accepted, the resumption of shooting after expiration of the cease-fire would be given the seal of legality in advance,” she said.

Mrs. Meir declared that what Israel wanted was a general cease-fire with no time limits to serve as a stage in the transition from war to peace. Meanwhile, as long as the present circumstances persist, Israel will continue to employ its present methods of self defense. “We will not desist from our efforts to prevent the installation of missile systems in the canal zone,” she said. Mrs. Meir’s statement, non-commital as it was on the Rogers proposals, was approved by an 88-5 vote in the Knesset. Only the two Communist factions and the leftist Haolam Hazeh voted against the government. Israel’s full reply to the Rogers plan is expected to be conveyed to Washington by Ambassador Yitzhak Rabin when he returns to his post in two or three days. Gen. Rabin was called home for consultations last week. Mrs. Meir spoke as President Nasser arrived in Moscow on his second visit this year to the Soviet capital, presumably to discuss the U.S. peace initiative with Kremlin leaders. The Israeli Premier charged in her Knesset speech that Soviet operational involvement in the Middle Eas has “breathed new life into aggression there.” She said there were no signs that any of the Arab states were prepared to make peace.

“Israel’s policy,” she said, “is founded on constant striving for peace with each and every one of the neighboring Arab states. Hence we follow and study closely every manifestation of readiness for peace by the factions directly involved in this terrible dispute.” Israel, Mrs. Meir said, “welcomes any sincere move which tries to influence the countries of the area to turn their faces toward peace, to stop the shooting and start talking,” as Secretary Rogers has said, but there is no sign that any of the Arabs want to do this, Mrs. Meir accused the Arab leaders of “duplicity.” She claimed that “they put on the disguise of peace mongers when in front of the television cameras but tell the truth when they speak to their own people and give orders to their Army commanders.” She apologized for not acquainting the Knesset with the details of the Rogers plan at this time. She promised that the government would “meticulously comply with the responsibilities and obligations of a democracy and would submit the matter for debate in the Knesset at a suitable time.” Before Mrs. Meir spoke the government requested the Knesset to forego a debate on her speech at this time and asked that the various factions limit themselves to brief statements.

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