WASHINGTON (Aug. 30)
Premier Golda Meir of Israel conceded on a taped television interview today that there had been “a very serious misunderstanding” between Israel and the United States over Israel’s charges of Egyptian cease-fire violations two weeks ago. “But everything has been cleared up,” she declared. She expressed complete faith in the United States and the assurances of President Richard M. Nixon with regard to Israel’s security. Mrs. Meir, appearing on the CBS program “Face the Nation.” fielded questions by correspondents George Herman and Laurance Pomeroy of CBS and Thomas Lambert, of the Los Angeles Times, on the extent that Israel was prepared to withdraw from occupied Arab territory. But she was more explicit on Israel’s relations with the U.S. Mrs. Meir declared that “there are outstanding problems” between Israel and the U.S. but would not name them. “We are dealing with a very friendly government and people and have never for a moment lost sight of that fact,” she stated.
Mrs. Meir added that the U.S. government, having studied Egypt’s cease-fire violations disclosed by Israel, now “has more conclusive evidence than we gave them two weeks ago.” She said the U.S. had given Israel substantial assurances with regard to the Mideast truce but refused to say what they were. Asked if the assurances were being carried out, Mrs. Meir replied, “Yes,” adding, “But we were never given assurances that we would get everything we want.” The Israeli Prime Minister was pressed on what territorial concessions her government would offer the Arabs. She was reminded that Foreign Minister Abba Eban said recently that the world would be “startled” by the concessions Israel would be prepared to make at the final peace conference. Mrs. Meir replied that at the very start of the current peace talks Israel made it clear that it would not return to the borders that existed before June 5, 1967. She said she didn’t think Mr. Eban had that in mind but rather intended his remark for those people who try to picture Israel as desiring territorial expansion. “What we are really after,” Mrs. Meir said, “are agreed, secure and recognized borders. The 1967 borders were not secure.” She noted that President Nixon has spoken of “defensible borders” for Israel and that is what Israel wants.
Asked if Israel could give United Nations envoy Gunnar V. Jarring an “outline” of its withdrawal plans, Mrs. Meir replied. “Why did we go into these talks? We were hoping that there was a desire on the part of the Arabs to make peace with us. We hope to get a firm peace agreement. The basic question is, are our neighbors willing to make peace with us.” She said she did not think any agreement could be reached without face-to-face talks with the Arabs. She made it clear that Israel would never negotiate with Arab guerrillas. “We negotiate only with states and heads of state,” Mrs. Meir said. She expressed the opinion that “out of tens of millions of Arabs, only three or four make the decisions.” (On a television interview last Thursday in Jerusalem, Mrs. Meir declared that Israel would not have agreed to the current peace talks at the United Nations had it known Egypt intended to violate the present 90-day cease-fire and standstill. Asserting nevertheless that her government “has not erred,” she added “this is not the end of the matter and we are in contact with the United States to change the present situation.” She suggested Israel would not agree to continue to participate in the peace talks if fighting was resumed at the end of the 90-day period. She denied all reports about Israeli contacts with the Soviet Union.)