TEL AVIV (Jan. 14)
Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said today that he is less optimistic than some of his colleagues over the outcome of disengagement negotiations with Egypt. But he expressed appreciation for the efforts Henry A. Kissinger is personally making to reach an agreement and described the U.S.Secretary of State as the best of all the diplomats who have tried to mediate the Middle East conflict. “Direct negotiations are preferable, but as this is unrealistic, it is good that we have a man of Kissinger’s personality to act as go-between.” Dayan told a Foreign Press Club luncheon here.
Suggesting a wait-and-see attitude toward the disengagement talks, the Defense Minister said his doubts stemmed from the rising curve of Arab aggression which reached a peak for Israel in the Yom Kippur War and is manifested abroad by the energy crisis. He said the Soviet Union continues to support Arab aggression by political and military means. He claimed that since the Yom Kippur War. Moscow has supplied Egypt and Syria with at least three types of ground-to-ground missiles–the newest being the long-range “Scud”–which are most dangerous because they are simple, to operate and could reach the center of Israel’s populated regions.
Dayan said that the U.S., through Kissinger “is making an effort just now to de-fuse the war, the shooting. This is disengagement.” He added that “should Kissinger fail–and I hope he does not–we shall have to try again and not give up.” Dayan said that Israel was reacting to Egyptian cease-fire violations by preventing non-military convoys from reaching encircled Egyptian forces. “If the classier violations continue, there will be an Israeli reaction which will touch, in one way or another, other points of the cease-fire agreement. Either there is or there is not a cease-fire,” Dayan said.
He said there was no urgent need for disengagement talks with Jordan at this time because there is no military problem as exists with Syria and Egypt. He claimed, moreover, that the present situation on the West Bank where Israel and Jordan have learned to coexist during the past six years is in itself an interim arrangement pending a final settlement. According to Dayan, the present caretaker government has full authority to sign any agreement, even a peace agreement, but he didn’t think it would have to exercise that authority before the new Knesset is sworn in next Monday. “If an agreement is ready for signature by that time, I will be very much surprised.” Dayan said.
He added that even if such agreement were ready there would be no problem to postpone the signing by a day or two pending Knesset approval. He said he was sure there would be a solid majority in the new Knesset supporting any agreement approved by the present government. Dayan said that while Israel’s continued mobilization created social problems and certain inequities between those who serve in the armed forces and those who do not, he was convinced that Israel could maintain its high state of mobilization as long as necessary without suffering economic disaster. As to his political future, Dayan told a questioner. “If the next Prime Minister will ask me to remain as Defense Minister, I will.” (By Yitzhak Shargil)