JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
Foreign Minister Abba Eban reportedly expressed astonishment today at the U.S. State Department’s criticism of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s speech last Thursday in which he told an army graduation ceremony that Israel should act as a permanent government in the administered territories. Eban noted that the State Department could not have had time-when it issued its criticism on Friday-to determine whether Dayan’s statement expressed the policy of Israel’s government. (Robert J. McCloskey, State Department spokesman, said: “We consider Minister Dayan’s statement harmful, and if this represents the view of the government of Israel it would be completely inconsistent with Israel’s acceptance of the United Nations Security Council Resolution (242) of Nov. 22, 1967.”) Eban’s comments were understood to have been made at today’s regular Cabinet session after Dayan reportedly reiterated at the meeting that he did not mean annexation when he said Israel should act in the areas like a permanent government.
Under pressure from critical government colleagues, Dayan took to the radio yesterday to explain that in his statement Thursday, which was widely interpreted as calling for permanent Israeli government of the administered Arab territories, he had not proposed Israeli annexation of the crease and that what he did mean was that he opposed a temporary administration which delays needed programs or abstains from them altogether. It was reported that Prime Minister Golda Meir interjected the comment that Dayan’s statement had not been cleared in advance with her but that she felt he was within his rights when he expressed-at an army ceremony-his views on a matter concerning army functions. Eban was then reported to have said that his Ministry had answered inquiries, reportedly from the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and that the reply was that the policy of Israel remained as it had been repeatedly approved both by the Cabinet and the Knesset-that Israel would remain on existing cease-fire lines until new lines were agreed on within the context of peace negotiations and that, until then, Israel would continue to strive for peace. In his clarification address, Dayan also said that permanent borders with Egypt did not “necessarily” require an Israeli military presence on the east bank of the Suez Canal but that Egypt “should learn to accept the fact” that Israel will remain at Sharm el Sheikh, at the southern end of the Sinai peninsula, to protect Israeli access to the Tiran Strait to and from its Elat port.