Mrs. Meir Says Sadat Really Wants to Solve Egypt’s Internal Problems

Premier Golda Meir said last night that “only time will tell” if Israel made the correct move in entering into its disengagement agreement with Egypt and that the possibility of betrayal by Egypt should not be excluded. But Mrs. Meir said that she shared the opinion of U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is genuinely interested in solving Egypt’s internal problems.

In any case, “should Sadat decide to attack us again, the new agreement would make it more difficult for him to do it,” the Premier said at a meeting of the Labor Alignment’s new Knesset faction where Defense Minister Moshe Dayan also spoke. Both leaders had vigorously defended the disengagement agreement with Egypt during a ten-hour debate in the Knesset yesterday. Dayan reiterated his view that the agreement entailed many risks but was the best Israel could have hoped for under the circumstances. He said one risk was that Sadat may not be able to withstand the pressure from the Arab world and would be forced to renege on his part of the agreement even though he wanted to uphold it.

(Returning to Cairo tonight from a five-day tour of Arab states, President Sadat said that Syria was ready to discuss with Israel military disengagement on the Golan Heights and that Egypt would not attend the Geneva peace conference unless there was a disengagement agreement on the Syrian front. In Washington, State Department spokesman John King said today that he had seen press reports of Sadat’s remarks but had no comment on them.)

According to Dayan the new agreement offers a chance for ending the war and he believed it was essential not to miss it. He said the Arabs have strengthened their forces with Soviet aid and are now in possession of three types of missiles–the Skud, the Luna and the Kelt–each capable of reaching Israel’s population centers. He also said that volunteers from many Communist countries were serving in the Arab armies.

Dayan disclosed at the same time that the timetable for U.S. re-equipment of the Israeli army has been advanced from the original 1978 completion date and will be completed by April, 1975. By then the level of Israeli armament will have risen by a large percentage, he said.

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