Dayan: Israel Must Take Seriously Sadat’s Threat to Renew War Before Year-end

Israelis should take “very seriously indeed” Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s recent threat of launching war against Israel before the end of this year, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan declared last night in a televised interview. Noting that Sadat had already established a “record” of “shifting ultimatums,” Dayan argued that “in this case I think his threats should be taken seriously.” Dayan said he believed Sadat felt that if developments, such as those involving United States-sponsored efforts to arrange an interim agreement on reopening the Suez Canal, did not move in his direction politically, he would have to “take to arms” and whether it would be at Christmas time or a month before was “immaterial.” He added that despite the inflow of Soviet weapons to Egypt, he was certain Israel would win if Sadat carried out his threat. (Egyptian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad was reported in London yesterday to have charged the U.S. with trying to “cover up” the “primary” issue of Israeli occupation of Arab territories by focusing its efforts on the canal reopening proposal.)

(In an interview with a Libyan newspaper reported by the semi-official Middle East News Agency. Riad asserted that “the American plan for reopening the Suez Canal is a dangerous attempt to confuse Arab and world opinion by turning the issue of complete liquidation of the aggression–that is, complete Israeli withdrawal and the recognition of the Palestinians’ rights–into what America calls the reopening of the Suez Canal.” In declaring that “this never crossed our minds and was never part of our conversation with any country.” Riad apparently was ignoring the fact that Sadat had made a specific proposal for the canal reopening. Riad conceded that Egypt had discussed the possibility of reopening the canal “but only in the context of an overall solution previously approved by the United Nations Security Council, and to convince foreign countries, particularly Western Europe, that they have an interest in helping to solve the Middle East problem.”)

ISRAEL SHOULD BE LENIENT WITH TERRORISTS WHO SURRENDERED

Dayan also suggested, in the televised interview that Israel should give lenient treatment to some 100 Palestinian terrorists who fled to Israel from Jordan during King Hussein’s final crackdown on terrorists using Jordanian bases. He said that in some cases, he thought certain terrorists should be freed by Israel, adding that while the Israeli government will decide the fate of the surrendering guerrillas, each case should be considered on its merits. In the interview, he also endorsed the distribution by the Israel Military Governor in the Gaza Strip of thousands of leaflets urging Arab terrorists to surrender, promising humane treatment to those who did. The Arabic-language leaflet cited the surrender of the 100 Palestinian terrorists to Israeli authorities, declaring they were now enjoying such treatment. The names of 13 terrorists killed by Israeli units in the Gaza Strip were listed in the leaflet.

Asserting that the idea of armed struggle by the terrorists had reached the point of bankruptcy, the leaflet said prevention of further bloodshed and honorable relations on both sides would mean a calm and prosperous life for all. The leaflet also urged parents of terrorists to persuade their sons to take the opportunity offered by Israel, rather than follow “negative influences which endanger their lives.” Israeli sources, commenting today on Sadat’s latest threat, said that Egypt had been greatly strengthened for a new war, if and when the Egyptian leaders felt they could win. The Egyptian army has been undergoing a continuous expansion, backed by a substantial air force supported by Soviet-piloted Air Force units and by a continual inflow of supplies and materials, they said, including amphibious vehicles for a Canal cross-over.

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