Mrs. Meir: Britain Moved to Soviet-french Mideast Views; Only U.S. Backs Israel

Prime Minister Golda Meir told a press conference here today that Britain had moved toward the French and Soviet Middle East views and that only the United States among the Big Four now supported Israel’s position on how a settlement should be achieved in the region. Mrs. Meir met with newsmen after meeting with Prime Minister Edward Heath and British Foreign Secretary Sir Alec Douglas-Home. Mrs. Meir reportedly asked the two British leaders for a clarification of the views expressed in a speech by Sir Alec Saturday which evoked strongly negative reactions in Israel. Declaring that she assumed Sir Alec’s speech to be “British policy now.” she declared that Britain no longer could claim “to be a neutral member of the Big Four group.” With the Soviet Union, France and Britain “holding the positions they hold, the Four Power group has lost its credibility even as an exploratory body,” she said. Asked about United States-Israel relations, she said “There is a basic agreement between the United States and Israel and this is what matters. The United States does not expect Israel to withdraw from anywhere without a peace settlement.” Sir Alec had called, in his speech, for Israeli withdrawal to its pre-Six-Day war boundaries and yielding by Israel of East Jerusalem. Mrs. Meir told the newsmen that “other people cannot decide for Israel, or for the Arabs for that matter, what secure, agreed, recognized borders are.”

Mrs. Meir said Sir Alec was enunciating “a high moral principle about acquisition of territory but when a country is trying to destroy another country and does not succeed, a different situation is created.” Asking acidly whether such an attempt to destroy Israel should be “rewarded with the Nobel prize for peace,” Mrs. Meir declared it was the Arabs “who destroyed the older borders by attacking Israel. This means the old borders were not good enough.” Commenting on Sir Alec’s specific reference to the Golan Heights as included in an Israeli withdrawal, Mrs, Meir said that “when we think of the Golan Heights, we don’t think about territorial acquisition but of the years when our settlements in the valley were subjected to murderous shelling continually from this very Golan Heights.” She also asked rhetorically how East Jerusalem came under Jordanian control and added “imagine preaching to us after the history of the last two decades.” She again denounced Egypt for “bad faith” in moving Soviet-made anti-aircraft missiles into the Egyptian side of the Suez Canal truce zone. She added that Arab states regularly broke agreements, “such as the 1956 one regarding the Strait of Tiran,” a refer ence to the channel between the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red Sea, which Egypt blockaded shortly before the June 1967 war. She added that the missiles “could only have been moved by the Russians. The Egyptians would not know how to do it. Russia should be faced with the responsibility and should make sure that the missiles are taken back.”

Referring to the current 90-day cease-fire which expires at 6 p.m. today New York time, she said that “as long as Egypt does not shoot, we will not shoot back. Naturally, if Egypt starts shooting, Israel will react and defend herself effectively.” She said that, in fact, the original 1967 Security Council cease-fire “stands. Egypt broke it. If Egypt doesn’t break it now, it is in force.” She called the Afro-Asian resolution adopted yesterday by the UN General Assembly one likely to introduce “new obstacles” to Middle East peace-making efforts. Discussing the question of Palestinian claims, she remarked “there is room for two states in the area of original Palestine and we don’t care what the Arabs call theirs” in the occupied West Bank, which originally had been slated to be an Arab state under the 1947 UN partition recommendation. But, she added, “Israel will never become Palestine.” She reiterated that the Arab guerrillas were no more than “a nuisance” to Israel but that they were endangering Lebanon. Jordan “and now even Syria.” She also said she did not come to London “with a shopping basket for arms. I did no shopping at all.” She was entertained at a luncheon by Prime Minister Heath with Sir Alec among those present. She described her meeting yesterday with the British leaders as involving “a frank and friendly discussion. We know each other’s point of view better, but there was no meeting of minds.”

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