Menu JTA Search

Yamani: Israel’s Existence is Not a Question, Not Related to Oil Business

Saudi Arabian Petroleum Minister Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani declared today that “the existence of Israel is not a question.” He made this statement in the lobby of the State Department after a 90-minute meeting with Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger, The Jewish Telegraphic Agency asked Yamani whether he believed Israel should be an independent state. “Well I think so many Arab leaders have announced they are prepared to recognize Israel and to sign a peace treaty, the existence of Israel is not a. question. It definitely is not to be related to the oil business.”

Saying that he was “optimistic and hopeful,” he affirmed that “the goal which we are looking for–which is peace in the area–is more feasible than at any time in the past. The Israelis realize they cannot continue their occupation and cannot ignore peace.”

In discussing the oil question, he was asked whether return of Israel to the pre-1967 war lines was necessary before there is a relaxation. in the Arab oil embargo. “When the Israelis decide to withdraw and there is a timetable for that we will have a timetable to in crease production step by step in a manner corresponding to the timetable,” Yamani said. Asked whether the one is phased to the other, he replied. “Right.”

Asked if there was no totality of withdrawal for relaxing of the embargo, he replied, “No.” When he was asked what guarantees the Arabs would be prepared to give to Israel, he replied, “We should get guarantees from Israel. They will always be aggressors.” When it was pointed out the Israelis feel they need security he responded “they have been offered guarantees several times the latest from the United States, if they need it.”

Yamani’s statements were seen as being as less belligerent and more conciliatory than in previous remarks he and his Algerian counterpart, Belaid Abdessalam made throughout Europe and the U.S. to justify the Arab oil embargo. In his meeting with the press here he did not insist on any. change in the U.S. position toward Israel. He said that he would continue to meet with various U.S. government officials in Washington and said “we hope in the end to gain some fruits; if not an immediate one. not a far one.” (By Joseph Polakoff)

NEXT STORY