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Mrs. Meir: Reservations to U.S. Initiative Not Meant As Prior Conditions to Talks

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Premier Golda Meir told the Knesset today that the Israeli reservations over the United States peace initiative did not include a priori conditions for negotiations. She said “some of the positions held by the Israeli government” were deemed by Israel “proper to emphasize on the threshold of possible talks with the Arab states,” but that those positions “tally with the government’s program and its resolutions, as approved by the Knesset.” Those positions “will guide our representatives in the talks.” she said. Mrs. Meir made her statement in answer to a question from Moshe Sneh, head of the anti-Moscow Maki Communists. She chose that method to avoid subjecting her answer to parliamentary debate, Mrs. Meir had been scheduled to address the Knesset tomorrow. In accepting the U.S. plan on Aug. 4, the Meir government said that “On the basis of clarifications given by the United States…, Israel is prepared to reply affirmatively to the…proposal for a cease-fire on the Egyptian front.” The “clarifications,” which were later reported to be acceptable to Israel, dealt with American assurances that there would be no military buildups permitted in the cease-fire area.

In reply to another question, Mrs. Meir said that “the conflict between ourselves and our neighbor countries is not over territory but over our existence.” She added: “If this were not so, why did the Arab states refuse to make peace with us when we were still using the borders of (June 4) 1967?” In response to a question on eventual borders, the Premier said her government “has not yet drawn any peace borders.” She then reiterated that “Individual members of the government might have certain views on this subject, but we are ready to enter negotiations without any conditions from any side.” On other matters, Mrs. Meir said that she personally is handling all matters pertaining to the problems of Soviet Jewry; that there is no change in the government’s position that Israel will not introduce atomic weapons into the Middle East; and that there is no plan to annex Hebron or to expropriate any of its land for Jewish settlement. On the last point she confirmed that she had stated that there is no reason Jews should not live in Hebron if it should become part of an Arab state.

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