Dayan Pessimistic About Quiet Along Syrian Border, Other Fronts

Defense Minister Moshe Dayan has expressed increasingly pessimistic views in recent days over the prospects of quiet along the Syrian border and believes that hostilities can break out on other fronts as well. He told 200 Anglo-Jewish leaders at a meeting here last night that he saw little chance of peace on the Golan Heights, predicted that Syria would respond to any Egyptian call for renewed hostilities against Israel, and raised the prospect that even Jordan, “the most moderate of Arab countries,” might not be able to resist the pressure from other Arab states if they decided to fight Israel again.

The Jewish leaders whom Dayan addressed comprised a special mission of the Joint Palestine Appeal. They included Lord Barnett Janner, Lord Sief, Michael Sacher, the Nobel Prize winner Boris Chain and Anglo-Jewish religious and community leaders. The leaders, here for a three-day fact-finding visit and meetings with Ministers and Jewish Agency leaders, are expected to contribute record sums to the JPA during their visit. They are also marking Israel’s 25th anniversary.

Dayan said that the Syrians were unlikely to reach any accord with Israel because they refuse to recognize its existence. “I’m afraid that we can’t really hope that the terrorist groups will be stopped by the Syrians or prevented from crossing the cease-fire line,” he said. He noted that if Egypt decided to renew hostilities against Israel, Syria would heed Cairo’s call though he doubted the Syrians could be effective.

Dayan also expressed doubt that Jordan could seek a separate peace agreement with Israel if only because the other Arab states would not permit such a move. Regarding a move to reopen the Suez Canal, Dayan said the details were unimportant so long as the result made sure that “the canal changes from a military to a navigational line.”

Addressing an assembly of Defense Ministry staff members to mark the 25th anniversary of the UN’s partition decision last week, Dayan warned that renewed fighting in the Golan Heights could “ruin any chances for a settlement.” He said the internal troubles in the Arab countries, especially Egypt, might cause Arab leaders to lose their sense of balance and escalate military or political warfare to force concessions from Israel.

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