JERUSALEM (Jan. 31)
Premier Golda Meir said last night that Israel would not retain Syrian territory it captured in the Yom Kippur War but would not negotiate a disengagement agreement with Syria until it discloses the names of Israeli prisoners of war and permits visits to them by the International Red Cross as required by the Geneva Convention. Mrs. Meir spoke at the closing session of the Jewish Agency’s Board of Governors meeting held here under the chairmanship of Max Fisher.
The Board of Governors wound up their meeting by pledging that the Jewish people abroad would raise $1.25 billion for Israel in an 18-month period starting in April. They said the Jewish Agency in Israel would expend that sum for welfare and absorption work, thereby easing the government’s burden in those areas. The $1.25 billion will be in addition to the identical amount that world Jewry pledged to raise during the Yom Kippur War. (See separate story.)
Mrs. Meir declared that Israel was interested in reaching a separation of forces accord with Syria provided that Syria observes the Geneva Convention with respect to POWs. She said she assumed that U.S. Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger had presented Israel’s position to the Damascus authorities. “But none of the appeals made so far have borne fruit,” she said.
Referring to the Geneva peace conference. Premier Meir said that Israel will insist that it be limited to nations in the area. “Israel will not conduct negotiations with the Palestinian terrorist organizations nor would it agree to their participation in the Geneva conference,” she declared. She said this was because the leaders of those organizations had made it abundantly clear that they were not interested in territorial problems but in driving out the Jews and liquidating the State of Israel.
REJECTS NRP LAW OF RETURN AMENDMENT
Mrs. Meir touched on domestic as well as foreign problems in her speech to the Jewish Agency Board of Governors. She declared that she would not accept the demands of the National Religious Party to amend the Law of Return so that only conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis are recognized as valid in Israel. “The demand voiced by the religious parties would split the Jewish people in Israel and throughout the world at a time when the maintenance of national unity is imperative,” Mrs. Meir said. She noted that in the interests of national unity she also opposed a bill introduced in the last Knesset by Liberal MK Gideon Hausner that would allow civil marriage in certain circumstances.