JERUSALEM (Nov. 16)
Premier Golda Meir told the Knesset today that Israel is prepared to return to the Jarring peace talks “if the proper conditions for this are created.” Although she discussed in detail the extent of Egyptian missile concentrations in the Suez cease-fire zone, she refrained from voicing Israel’s previously repeated insistence on a missile roll-back as a pre-condition for resuming the Jarring talks. One of Mrs. Meir’s principal aides who met with newsmen after the Knesset speech revealed that the government has taken no decision as yet on what would constitute “the proper conditions” for Israel’s return to the Jarring talks. He said the government was in no hurry to formulate such conditions and preferred to waft for the other side to make offers which it would weigh on their merits. During her speech Mrs. Meir said that President Richard M. Nixon “had hit the nail on the head when he demanded the creation of conditions of trust that would make the resumption of peace efforts possible.” That, however, was a far cry from the previous demands by Mrs. Meir and other Israeli leaders for complete restoration of the military situation in the Suez standstill cease-fire zone to what it was before the truce went into effect last Aug. 7.
Today’s speech was Mrs. Meir’s first major political address to the Knesset since her two visits to the United States this fall. It opened a foreign policy debate that promised to be heated in view of the Gahal faction’s bitter opposition to the Jarring talks and the American peace initiative of which they are part. Mrs. Meir threw down the gauntlet when she declared, “More than anyone else in the world, we are interested in advancing the peace talks which, we hope, will develop into direct negotiations between us and the Arab states and will end with the conclusion of peace treaties. This,” she said, “was the idea which produced our acceptance of the American initiative and consent to take part in the Jarring talks. We are also aware of the wish of so many throughout the world to see the Jarring talks resumed in order to bring peace closer.”
However, Mrs. Meir said, “I must make it clear that up till now no arrangements have been suggested which the government would have been able to regard as satisfying its demand for rectification and no conditions have been created which the government assessed as justifying a reversal of its decision to suspend the Jarring talks. Therefore,” she went on, “we have to continue our struggle for the creation of such conditions. On this subject we are continuing our dialogue with the United States.” Mrs. Meir praised the “responsible conduct of the U.S. government which has discontinued its participation in the meetings of the Big Four deputies, worked hard against the passage of the Arab sponsored resolution at the United Nations General Assembly and is helping to strengthen Israel’s defensive capacity.” Mrs. Meir said that since the Suez cease-fire first went into effect last Aug. 7, the Egyptians moved between 30-40 missile batteries into the 30 kilometer zone which before the cease-fire contained only one battery; and moved 40-50 missile batteries into a 50 kilometer zone that previously contained only 16 batteries. She said that in addition, there were 150 dug-outs for missile batteries in a 50 kilometer wide zone. She said the missiles deployed on the canal’s west bank have a range of 15 kilometers.