Eban Proposes Israeli, Egyptian Representatives Meet to Lay Basis for Negotiations
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Eban Proposes Israeli, Egyptian Representatives Meet to Lay Basis for Negotiations

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Foreign Minister Abba Eban proposed today that Israeli and Egyptian representatives meet informally to lay the groundwork for “effective and realistic negotiations without which there can be no thawing of any international conflict.” Mr. Eban made his offer in the course of a lengthy political statement to the Knesset in which he outlined in detail Israel’s principles for a peaceful settlement of the Middle East dispute. “It has been proven by experience that all political moves which are not determined by the countries of the area have no result,” Mr. Eban said. He denounced the latest Soviet proposals which he contended was “not a peace plan but a plan designed to endanger Israel’s security and to maintain continuous tension in the Middle East by an accurate reconstruction of the situation that produced the 1967 war.” Mr. Eban said that “such plans have been defined by United States representatives and others as a prescription for the renewal of aggression.” (Premier Golda Meir, in an interview published yesterday in the Parisian news magazine L’Express, stated that Israel approached Egypt at least 20 times with an offer of secret peace negotiations but received no response. The latest offer, she stated, was made two weeks ago.)

The Israeli Foreign Minister charged that when President Nasser of Egypt speaks of peace “he does not mean peace with Israel in the Middle East but peace in the Middle East without Israel.” Nevertheless, Mr. Eban suggested that as a first step to break the deadlock, “Egypt and Israel send authorized representatives to an agreed place in order to decide together, without prejudice to their respective positions and claims, on the arrangements, the framework and the formulation of subjects and procedures for official negotiations.” The Foreign Minister said that Israel was ready to accept the cease-fire of June, 1967 and to negotiate “freely and directly with every Arab state.” He said Israel would welcome an invitation from the United Nations’ special Mideast envoy. Ambassador Gunnar V. Jarring, to all parties concerned” to conduct negotiations on the establishment of peace and to hold such peace conference according to the Rhodes procedure.” Mr. Eban’s reference was to the 1949 Arab-Israeli armistice negotiations on the Island of Rhodes attended by representatives of both sides under the aegis of Dr. Ralph Bunche of the United Nations. Israel has claimed that the final stages of the Rhodes negotiations included face-to-face meetings between Israeli and Arab representatives and cites this as a precedent for future direct negotiations. The Arabs insist that no face-to-face meetings took place at Rhodes.


Mr. Eban emphasized that the establishment of peace frontiers with Israel’s neighbors “is open to negotiation and agreement and is not a question that has already been decided.” He said Israel has made it clear on many occasions that any question, without exception, may be raised at peace talks and “has clarified at the United Nations and in the Knesset, between May, 1968 and May, 1970, its attitude toward the Security Council’s Nov. 22, 1967 Mideast resolution.” The Foreign Minister intimated however that Israel holds to its view that withdrawal from the occupied Arab territories, one of the provisions of the resolution, can only come about as part of a peace settlement. “When peace is established there is no intention that forces should be stationed beyond the boundaries agreed upon in negotiations with the neighboring states,” he said. He recalled that Israel had proposed an international conference to work out a five year plan to settle the Arab refugee problem. He said Israel has also formulated principles for Jerusalem expressing the universal spiritual responsibility with regard to the holy places of Christianity and Islam; had proposed procedures of regional cooperation between Israel and its eastern neighbors (Jordan) “the majority of whose inhabitants in any possible combination will be Palestinian Arabs”; and has proposed a free movement of men and trade across open peace frontiers.

“The principles enunciated by Israel have been regarded in all similar cases in world history as a basis for peace and coexistence. Still, Israel has declared that if the Arabs have other principles and attitudes they should be submitted at the conference table in order to reach agreement,” he said. Mr. Eban told the Knesset that despite the war of attrition waged against Israel by the Arabs with the help of the Soviet bloc, Israel has continued its growth and development in all fields, including the diplomatic and political. He accused the Soviet Union of preventing peace. “It is doubtful if the Six-Day War would have erupted without the support and encouragement of the Soviet Union,” he said, “and even today there would be a chance of a more moderate Arab attitude were it not for Soviet policy. Mr. Eban charged that by inviting Russian arms and personnel, President Nasser of Egypt has reversed the process of decolonization in Africa “which believed it had liberated itself from the military presence of external powers.” “Instead of putting an end to the independence of Israel, he (Nasser) has jeopardized the independence of Egypt,” Mr. Eban said. He said that Israel is “absolutely determined” to hold its line on the Suez Canal until the establishment of permanent peace frontiers. He said Israel has “the power to implement this right.” He said Israel will not initiate clashes with foreign soldiers or pilots but at the same time “it will not recoil and does not recoil from any action regarded necessary to maintain its positions.”

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