Elazar Rejects View That Peace with Egypt is Unattainable

Gen. David Elazar. Chief of Staff of Israel’s armed forces, says he is optimistic about an eventual peace settlement with Egypt and rejected the view of “those who believe that peace is unattainable” and “maintain that Israel must not withdraw a single’ inch.” He said he was convinced that a line could be found, somewhere between the Suez Canal and Israel’s pre-1967 borders that would safeguard Israel’s security and be sufficiently attractive to Egypt.

However, that would have to wait, he said, until “someone in Egypt will decide that its a good thing they are no longer at war with the Jews, a fact that enables Egypt to develop its country, to stop fighting and start living better.” Elazar made his remarks at graduation exercises for Israeli company commanders at a military base last week. They were re-broadcast in part yesterday by the Armed Forces Radio.

He said that basically. “There are prospects for peace in the Middle East, though one cannot predict when this will come about and whether it will be in the wake of the recent war. Withdrawal remains, therefore, a strategic-political consideration. Those who believe that peace is unattainable maintain that Israel must not withdraw one single inch and as far as they are concerned, the next war cannot break out too soon. Thus, they say, ‘since there is no chance anyway, let’s not budge from where we are now and keep fighting.’ I take a more optimistic view,” the Chief of Staff said.

He denied that there was dissension in Israel’s high command–the so-called “war of generals”–because of Israeli mistakes in the Yom Kippur War. He said the public had magnified the alleged errors. He noted that there were hitches and mistakes made in the 1967 Six-Day War when Israel had three weeks to mobilize, but the public forgot about them in the euphoria of victory. “Today the opposite tendency prevails. Whatever was good is taken for granted while undue weight is given to all negative features and hitches,” he said.

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