Mrs. Meir Pessimistic About Disengagement Talks with Syria

Premier Golda Meir said today that the U.S. government “was acting energetically” on the alleged Egyptian violation of the disengagement agreement but did not specify what kind of action it was taking, She was referring to Egypt’s reported introduction of additional artillery into the limited forces zone east of the Suez Canal a week ago. Mrs. Meir, addressing the Hebrew University Board of Governors, expressed hope that the situation on the Egyptian front would be rectified within a few days.

But she was not optimistic about the Syrian front where fierce artillery, tank and rocket duels were raging for the 16th day. The Premier predicted “very, very great difficulties in the negotiations with the Syrians.” She acknowledged, however, that an Israeli disengagement agreement with Syria was the key to further progress toward a general Middle East peace settlement. She ruled out the possibility of reaching a separate peace agreement with Egypt and Jordan before a settlement with Syria.

She reiterated that all Israel was prepared to discuss with Syria at the present time was the territory Israeli forces occupied in the Yom Kippur War. “We are not prepared to move beyond the 1967 boundaries.” she said. She also said that any disengagement accord with Syria would have to include a UN presence “and anything that will guarantee the possibility to defend ourselves and not endanger the Golan Heights settlements by shelling.”

Mrs. Meir said that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “has a problem in the Arab world. I don’t believe he would take the next step before we have completed the first step with Syria. “She was willing to credit Sadat, however, with aiming at peace, “unless proven otherwise.” The Premier warned against the “illusion” that the region was on the way to peace. “The most dangerous thing is if we fall into wishful thinking. We must be prepared for the possibility of additional wars,” Premier Meir said.

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