NEW YORK (May. 22)
Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban charged yesterday that talk of an energy crisis adversely affecting the policy of the United States in the Middle East is tantamount to “hypochondriacal talk of defeatism.” He reaffirmed that there is no change in U.S. policy toward Israel or the Middle East as a result of the so-called oil shortage and stated that the U.S. and other western nations would be able to exploit other sources of energy and new oil deposits, such as those in the North Sea and Canada.
The Israeli diplomat made these remarks at a luncheon honoring him and Mrs. Eban given by the American Committee for Israel’s 25th anniversary. He noted, too, that the U.S. policy of assuring Israel that it will remain strong and of trying to maintain a balance of power in the Mideast has not changed in any way in addition, Eban said that the U.S. continues to oppose an imposed solution in the Mideast.
However, later in the day, in an address to Israeli personnel at the Israel Consulate General, he noted that no one can predict whether or not there will be a change in American policy five or six years from now but that no change is foreseen within the next few years. Commenting on the report released earlier in the day by United Nations Secretary General Kurt Waldheim, Eban termed it an assemblage of facts that can be used in the UN. The main problem, he noted, is whether the Arabs are willing to negotiate and whether they are prepared to enter into a dialogue with Israel.
In his address to the American Committee the Foreign Minister stressed that Israel wants to enter the next twenty five years of history by conducting a dialogue with its neighbors. “I believe that there is a slow but perceptible change in the attitude of Arabs toward Israel,” he told the more than 100 Congressmen, personalities and Jewish leaders who were active in sponsoring Israel’s 25th anniversary year. “The Arabs must be liberated from the imaginary poetry that Israel is a strange body in the Middle East,” he said.
NOT APPREHENSIVE ABOUT NIXON-BREZHNEV SUMMIT
Referring to the forthcoming talks in Washington between President Nixon and Soviet Communist Party Secretary Leonid I. Brezhnev, Eban said that Israel is not apprehensive about these summit talks. “Egypt cannot help Russia with its economic problems, but the United States can,” he said. Returning to the so-called energy crisis, he observed that the Arabs need to sell their oil more than the U.S. needs to buy it. “The Arabs have no other consumers,” Eban said, “while the U.S. can find other sources from which to buy oil,” such as Iran.
He also thanked the American people for their support of Israel as evidenced by their widespread celebrations of Israel’s anniversary. “Everywhere I have gone since I came to the United States a few days ago. I have been made aware of the extraordinary enthusiasm and the warmth of feeling the American people have for Israel,” Eban stated. “They have celebrated Israel’s first 25 years as vigorously as we ourselves in Israel.”
Jacob Stein, chairman of the American Committee, who presided over the luncheon, said: “I think it is clear that in saluting Israel’s 25 years of achievement the American people were saying, ‘We admire what you have done and are doing, because you have brought new meaning and new vitality to the same democratic credo to which the American people subscribe.”
Eban’s busy weekend schedule included a visit to Chicago where he addressed the Israel Bond Salute of the Stars Independence Festival, a two hour meeting with U.S. Ambassador John Scali at Israeli Ambassador Yosef Tekoah’s home to discuss the forthcoming Mideast debate in the Security Council, and guest of honor at the home of Israeli Consul General David Rivlin. He left the U.S. last night for London.