TEL AVIV (Dec. 19)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said last night that the chances were good for a settlement with Egypt and Jordan at the Geneva peace conference. The mere fact that Israel will be sitting with those countries and talking to them carries the basis for an arrangement, he told a Labor Party election rally at Kfar Yehezkel.
Dayan cautioned, however, that a successful outcome at Geneva depended upon Israel maintaining its vigilance and its strength. “We are strong enough to start talking even if we have enemy tanks behind us and oil in front of us,” he said.
Dayan strongly defended the United States and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger against charges by some Israelis that Israel was being sold out by its friends. Kissinger is a Jew, “but we must not forget that he is the American Secretary of State. We have no reason whatsoever to complain about him. He did not, at any time, betray us,” Dayan said.
He stressed that Israel had to maintain its good relations with the U.S. “The U.S. owes us nothing. The U.S. does not want us annihilated or defeated by Russia or its emissaries. All the U.S. wants us to do is to make peace, and she supports us because we were attacked. If we need to be saved she will support us. When she sent us arms during the Yom Kippur War she did not ask how we were going to pay for them,” Dayan said.
U.S. OVERRULED ON UN ROLE IN TALKS
Dayan said that when he visited Washington recently no U.S. officials suggested that Israel rely solely on American guarantees. He said that the U.S. was no more happy than Israel about holding the Geneva conference under United Nations auspices. “But they were overruled. What can we do but sigh and accept the new situation,” he said.
He stressed that the Cabinet is united as to the limits beyond which Israel can make no concessions. There will be no return to the pre-June 1967 borders “no matter what the pressure,” Dayan said Israel, he said, must retain strategic depth in order to have defensible borders. Had the Egyptians been 20 kilometers from Gaza and the Syrians close to Deganya when the Yom Kippur War broke out, “our situation would have been very bad,” Dayan said.
The Defense Minister denied charges by critics that he did not carry out his duties properly when the war started. “I did what should have been done and did it properly.” Dayan said, adding. “I was not in Switzerland when the war broke out.” The latter was a barbed reference to some of his critics who were abroad when Egypt and Syria attacked Oct. 6. (By Yitzhak Shargil)