JERUSALEM (Dec. 23)
A speech by Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili has embarrassed the Foreign Ministry. Galili, a Labor Party leader close to Premier Golda Meir, told a group of government workers that in the Cabinet’s view significant changes must be made in the 1967 boundaries within the context of a peace treaty with the Arabs. Galili said that Israel does not need to remain on the Suez Canal or to occupy all of Sinai after peace is concluded, but that a retreat to the old international boundaries with Egypt is out of the question.
Shortly after Galili spoke, Foreign Ministry sources emphasized to newsmen that Foreign Minister Abba Eban considers his latest speeches to the UN General Assembly and Israel’s official reply to the peace mission of African beads of state to be the only authoritative expression of Israel’s position. They said pointedly that all other reports should be dismissed as guesswork and speculation. Galili has been described as an unofficial spokesman for the Cabinet.
The gist of Eban’s speeches and Israel’s note to the visiting African Presidents was that Israel is prepared to enter a resumption of peace negotiations through UN mediator Gunnar V. Jarring without pre-conditions from either side.
Galili blamed Dr. Jarring and Egypt directly for suspension of the United Nations Mideast mediator’s peace mission. He said that Jarring’s Feb. 8 memo asking for an Israeli commitment to return to the old international boundaries became an obstacle to both an overall settlement and an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal. Galili noted, however, that the Jarring mission can easily be revived if Israel is not required to make any prior commitment to withdraw. He described Premier Meir’s recent visit to Washington as highly successful and said he hoped it would lead to tangible political results.
Galili said, however, that Israel was still waiting for clarification of the US position on an interim accord. “I hope we shall receive from the US clear answers to our questions and in particular that these clarifications are constructive and will make it possible for renewed progress to take place in the discussion of a special interim settlement,” Galili said. He also expressed hope that “common sense” will prevail in Cairo.