JERUSALEM (Oct. 28)
Premier Golda Meir said today that her government’s decision not to take pre-emptive action against Egypt and Syria before Oct. 6 and thereby absorbing the shock of their first attack was a calculated risk and that it remained to be seen if it was worthwhile. Speaking on the CBS-TV program “Face the Nation,” broadcast via satellite from Israel, Mrs. Meir was asked if she would take the risk again. “If this is taken into consideration in all arrangements that have to be made, we will say, well, we paid for it.” the Premier replied. “We suffered for it but in the end it balances well. But if we are treated as though we started the war and as though we are responsible, then I don’t know what,” she added.
Asked about arms supplies from the U.S. in the past and future, Mrs. Meir agreed that Israel was becoming more self-sufficient but indicated that it had a long way to go and would still “ask our friends to sell us even more in the future.” She preferred to speak of “friendship” rather than “dependence” on the U.S. “I would like to see it as a matter of friendship, and the understanding of the largest power in the world that a small nation, no matter how small, should not be at the mercy of anyone that wants to bully it, And I think it is as important for the U.S. as it is for Israel.”
Later she added “It does not mean that we do not from time to time have differences of opinion sometimes rather painful ones, with the U.S…..The U.S. has its interests as we have ours. I think in most phases of interest, as far as peace is concerned and so on, we are at one.” Mrs. Meir agreed that she would have preferred a cease-fire initiated directly by Egypt and Israel but said this had not seemed possible. Israel suggested the meeting between officers and was very happy it had taken place. She “couldn’t say this leads directly to peace quickly but…it is a good start.”
POW ISSUE OF PRIME CONCERN
Premier Meir spoke sharply about Egypt’s and Syria’s failure to honor the Geneva Conventions about POWs and indicated she would not think of peace negotiations until this issue had been settled, although she refused to say specifically that this was a “condition” to such negotiations. The issue had been raised at the officers’ meeting. “We cannot just give up our men to the mercy of (President Anwar) Sadat (of Egypt) and (President Hafez) Assad (of Syria),” she said. She said she thought the Soviets had undertaken to persuade Egypt more intensely than Syria towards the peace table, agreeing that Syria had always taken a tougher stand. But now Syria too had accepted Resolution 242 and the concept of negotiations and she hoped “they will live up to it.”
DENIES 5000 DEAD AND WOUNDED
On the question of the Palestinians Mrs. Meir said their solution was to live in the state of Jordan which had always had a majority of former Palestinians. She repeated her old doctrine that there would only be two states between the sea and Iraq. She noted the “abnormal situation” that while Jordanian tanks were killing Israelis in Syria the Jordan River bridges had remained open. Israel had striven, she said, not to disrupt the bridges. There had been no contact with Jordan since the war, she said, implying that there had been before the war.
She denied the Institute for Strategic Studies estimate of 5000 Israeli dead and wounded but agreed “we suffered a lot.” Asked if she was afraid that Sadat, having been defeated, would, by political arrangements, be handed a victory and become a hero, she said “I hope not, but a few things that have happened in the last few days make me worry.” (By David Landau)