JERUSALEM (Apr. 18)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said today that the announced federation of Egypt. Libya and Syria posed no new threats to Israel and did not necessarily preclude an interim arrangement with Egypt to reopen the Suez Canal. (See separate story for an additional assessment of the tripartite federation.) Addressing the annual meeting of the Tel Aviv Journalists Association, Dayan disclosed that Israel is already taking steps and planned additional measures to consolidate its hold on the occupied Arab territories in the absence of a peace settlement. The Golan Heights is to have more settlements and efforts are being made to turn Golan into an integral part of the State, he said. Similarly, the West Bank is being secured as a place where Jews and Israelis can live in security. In that respect, Dayan said, the Jordan River is “our security line. We have here a good line of defense and even an effective one.” He observed that Arab workers are building the Jewish quarter at the West Bank town of Hebron “and no one is protesting.” Dayan said that in the Gaza Strip the main problems are agriculture, civil service and security. Israel is “making headway” in all of these areas, he added. On the Lebanese border “we are doing what we have done so that people can five there in peace,” he said. Dayan said that he did not envisage the Suez Canal as a permanent future boundary but as a prime defense line which must remain under Israel’s control until there is a final peace settlement. “As long as war is still officially on there can be no retreat from the canal. It is the best defense line we have,” he added. Nevertheless, he said, Israel was willing to make an interim arrangement with Egypt leading to the canal’s reopening. He said that he didn’t think Egypt’s federation with Libya and Syria posed a serious obstacle. It was not a new threat he explained because the three elements comprising the federation existed before. Referring to the global struggle outside of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Dayan said “I would like to see an American superiority in the Mediterranean and the Middle East, an absolute superiority that would prevent any Russian attempt to gain military superiority over the West in this region.” Dayan said Israel wanted no one to fight its wars. “All we need is the means to equip our troops,” he added.