JERUSALEM (Apr. 9)
Premier Golda Meir reiterated today that Israel intends to retain most of the administered territories even after a peace treaty is signed in order to secure itself against future Arab attacks. In an interview scheduled to be televised today by the BBC, Mrs. Meir said a signature alone on a peace treaty is not enough. Israel must have secure borders as a guarantee that the Arabs will not attack. She defined secure borders as those that would make the risk of attacking Israel too great for the Arabs to take.
Mrs. Meir said Israel would be prepared to return most of the Sinai peninsula to Egypt under a peace settlement but not the Sharm el-Sheikh strong point guarding the Gulf of Aqaba. Nor, she said, will Israel give up Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip. She stressed, however, that Israel has refrained from drawing a map of proposed new borders and desires as much as ever to negotiate peace with its neighbors. But the Arab demand for total Israeli withdrawal is unacceptable, she said.
INFORMATION CAMPAIGN ON FUTURE BORDERS
Political observers here noted that Mrs. Meir’s statements and similar statements recently by other government officials should be taken as “positions” not “conditions” for a settlement of the Middle East dispute. These statements, according to the observers, are part of an information campaign undertaken by senior Cabinet ministers to present Israel’s views on future borders. They are intended in part to provide President Nixon and his advisers with the background they may need during the President’s visit next month to Moscow.
The concensus of opinion here is that events in Vietnam make it less likely than ever that Nixon will reach any accord on the Middle East with Soviet leaders next month. Even before the present North Vietnamese offensive in Vietnam, Israel was convinced that the US would not enter into any arrangements with the Russians that would be contrary to Israel’s interests, sources here pointed out.
(In Washington there was some speculation this weekend that if the renewed military offensive by Hanoi seriously threatens US positions in Vietnam, President Nixon may reconsider his trip to the Soviet Union next month.)