JERUSALEM (Nov. 13)
Premier Golda Meir served notice on the world today that Israel will never return to its old boundaries. “We learned many things from the Yom Kippur War. but one thing we did not learn was that we had to return to the June 4, 1967 lines which invite our neighbors to aggression,” she declared in a political statement opening a special session of the Knesset. “Mistaken is he who thinks post-war Israel will be weakened and frightened,” Mrs. Meir said. “Post war Israel will be just as peace-seeking as yesterday and ready for the battle to defend her rights and destiny even more than yesterday.”
Her vigorous defense of Israel’s position on the crucial issue of secure boundaries was made only hours after U.S. Secretary, of State Henry A. Kissinger indicated in Peking that Israel would have to make substantial withdrawals and said the U.S. was considering a mutual security treaty with Israel as one of the possible ways of guaranteeing its borders once a formal Middle East peace settlement is achieved. Kissinger made his remarks in an interview in the Chinese capital taped for television broadcast by the three major American networks.
Although Premier Meir and other Israeli leaders have stated repeatedly in the past that there can be no withdrawal to the pre-Six-Day War boundaries, Mrs. Meir’s uncompromising reiteration of that position today was seen to be directed against possible U.S. and other pressure on Israel for serious concessions. But her vehement stand did not prevent Likud opposition leader Menachem Beigin from making his bitterest attack on the Premier to date during the debate that followed Mrs. Meir’s statement. Demanding the immediate resignation of Mrs. Meir and her government, Beigin accused the government of allowing other parties “to make decisions for us.” He quoted Kissinger’s Peking remarks about treaty guarantees as proof that withdrawal by Israel would endanger the national security.
Premier Meir rejected Egypt’s demand that Israel return to the cease-fire positions occupied on Oct. 22. “What they call the Oct. 22 line is a term that never existed in reality,” she said. “Nobody can locate the position of the parties on Oct. 22.” She stated Israel would not lend itself to Egyptian accusations that it violated the Oct. 22 cease-fire and enable it to extricate the Egyptian Third Army. She reiterated Israel’s interpretation of the Nov. 11 six-point agreement signed by Israel and Egypt as covering land, sea and air –meaning that Egypt is obligated to lift its blockade of Bab el Mandeb. She said she had made that point clear in her conversations in Washingtons with President Nixon and Kissinger.
She said that although the cease-fire agreement and progress toward peace “are preferable to any additional victory,” the Israeli defense forces are well prepared on both fronts. “We hold advantageous positions, both militarily and politically,” Mrs. Meir said. “But we are not assured that the Egyptians or the Syrians will not violate the cease-fire. Therefore it is not yet the time for the soldiers to return to their families. The war is not over.” Mrs. Meir promised that the government would conduct a vigorous inquiry into the Yom Kippur War. “The people can be assured that any mistakes by whoever and whatever rank he holds will be examined without partiality,” she said. “There will be a general election on time and the people will elect their representatives. But until the elections, this government and the elected institutions will continue to act with full democratic authority.”
Beigin, the first speaker to follow Mrs. Meir, waved a finger toward the Cabinet table and declared, “Mrs. Prime Minister, tomorrow you shall go to the President and will submit to him your resignation. This is your duty to this people.” Beigin claimed that Mrs. Meir’s government does not have the authority to sign agreements that will determine Israel’s future because its term of office and mandate ended Oct. 30 when the national elections were supposed to have been held but were postponed because of the war. He said another reason for the government to resign was the talk about a peace conference with the Arabs. “Somebody decided that in the first week of December there is supposed to be a peace conference in Geneva, and it has become a habit recently that somebody makes the decisions for us. Munich was also called a peace conference. If somebody wants to give our people a political LSD, he should remember the awakening might be very bitter.”
Beigin accused the Cabinet of trying to “live with untruths.” He said the real issue of the inquiry into the Yom Kippur War was not whether or not Israel should have launched a preventive strike but “why between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur you did not mobilize the reserve force and did not bring nearer to the front the tools of war?” Beigin repeated that question three times. He accused Mrs. Meir of withholding information about enemy troop concentrations from the Cabinet and the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.
Meanwhile there was no official comment here today on Kissinger’s remark that the U.S. was considering offering Israel a mutual security treaty. Israel has always been lukewarm to the idea and has stressed that it does not want American or any other foreign troops fighting for it and that it was satisfied with the extent of U.S. military aid which was not likely to be increased by a mutual security pact. But Kissinger’s remarks may only serve to increase uneasiness here over the possibility of U.S. pressure on Israel to make major withdrawals from the occupied Arab territories.