TEL AVIV (Nov. 24)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan continued last night to urge Israel to enter into peace talks with the Arabs in order to prevent a renewal of hostilities. Without mentioning the Jarring talks. Gen. Dayan called for an Israeli initiative that would lead to a dialogue with the Arabs. “It is our duty to do everything to reach a political agreement if only to prevent a renewal of war which threatens us.” he told 800 Labor Party members in a speech in Ashkelon. Gen Dayan’s recent public statements advocating Israel’s return to the Jarring talks and a mutual disengagement of forces along the Suez Canal has aroused the ire of many of his Cabinet colleagues, especially Foreign Minister Abba Eban. A promise was exacted from Gen. Dayan at Sunday’s Cabinet meeting to refrain from making public statements that run counter to government policy. But government policy has been stated only in general terms so far. Premier Golda Meir told the Knesset a week ago that Israel was prepared to return to the Jarring talks “if the proper conditions for this are created.” What those conditions will be is still being debated by the Cabinet. Gen. Dayan warned last night that the present peaceful situation along the cease-fire lines cannot last indefinitely “if we take no action to create some sort of framework wherein the dispute could be solved by way of talks.”
He said it would be to Israel’s advantage not to antagonize the Russians who are manning missile batteries in Egypt but warned that this would be inevitable if fighting is renewed. “If Israel can do anything to prevent renewal of hostilities, she must do all she can, even if this involves jumping into cold water,” Gen. Dayan said. His use of that metaphor in a previous speech got Gen. Dayan into trouble with Gahal leader Menachem Beigin and other Israeli hawks. The implication they read into it was that Israel must be prepared to make painful concessions in the interests of peace. Mrs. Meir said in the Knesset last week that it would be impossible to achieve peace without giving up some territory. But while the government apparently does not disagree entirely with Gen. Dayan’s views on the peace talks or even with his approach to them, it wants to avoid giving away its hand at this time, particularly in view of its efforts to bargain for firmer commitments of military and economic aid from the United States. To some observers, the Defense Minister’s public “stumping” for his ideas creates the impression of disunity within the government.