JERUSALEM (Apr. 24)
Finance Minister Pinhas Sapir rejected yesterday the annexation by Israel of all of the administered Arab territories. He said during a radio interview that Israel must make it clear that its presence in the territories was only temporary and that while for security reasons there can never be a return to the pre-June 1967 borders, Israel intends to return much of the administered territories and their population under the terms of a peace agreement with its neighbors.
Sapir, one of the most powerful leaders of the ruling Labor Party, insisted that there can be no return of any territory before there is a peace agreement. He said that security must be the sole criteria determining Israel’s future borders and denounced advocates of annexation on historical, religious or emotional grounds. Sapir said he objected to “religion trying to lay down which territories we ought to Keep.”
The Finance Minister was referring to claims by Orthodox and extreme nationalist factions that Israel must keep all of the territories that were Jewish in Biblical times. He said that instead of “mystical and irrational concepts” Israel’s policy on the future of the territories must be based on demographic realities.
Noting that the present Jewish population of Israel is 2.7 million, he said an annual average. Immigration rate of 50,000, much higher than the average during Israel’s first 25 years, would increase the Jewish population to just over five million by 1978. If the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai peninsula were incorporated into Israel, the 480,000 Arabs in Israel and the 1.2 million in the administered territories would increase to 4-4.5 million within 25 years.
“For every 55 Jews in Israel there would be 45 Arabs. What sort of Israel would that be?” he asked. He warned that 4 million Arabs within Israel’s borders would be “dynamite which would blow up the State.”