JERUSALEM (Jun. 18)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin’s new government will face its first vote of confidence in the Knesset tomorrow on the issue of President Nixon’s pledge of nuclear material and know-how to Egypt. No confidence motions have already been filed by Likud and the National Religious Party which contend that the government is playing down the danger of the promised atomic reactor to Cairo. “This has brought considerable damage to Israel and damaged the prospects for a political and public drive to ban nuclear assistance to the enemies of Israel,” the opposition motion said.
Rabin said last night that he has appointed two experts to evaluate whether the reactor Egypt receives from the U.S. could be used for military purposes. He said he would wait until he gets their opinions before commenting further on the subject. He did not identify the experts. Rabin, however, invited leaders of the Likud, NRP and Aguda bloc to separate meetings with him this afternoon to explain the government’s position on the matter. His announcement that he was seeking expert opinion contrasted sharply with earlier assurances by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon and Information Minister Aharon Yariv that the American promise of nuclear know-how to Egypt for peaceful purposes did not constitute a threat to Israel.
RISKS ON ROAD TO PEACE
Evaluating President Nixon’s 25-hour visit to Israel, Rabin said at a press conference last night that its significance was two-fold: Nixon was the first American President to visit Israel; and Nixon chose to hold his talks with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital, despite Arab challenges to Israel’s sovereignty in the city.
Asked to comment on the “painful decisions” Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said Israel would have to make, Rabin conceded that “there Is a risk in approaching peace, not a small risk, but If we don’t approach peace there is a danger of resumption of war.” The Premier added, “We must exhaust all roads to peace, so that if we do find ourselves in war again we know at least that we had tried all avenues for peace. It is essential for the Israeli fighter to know that we go to war because we have no choice,” he said. Rabin stressed that Israel was always ready for acceptable compromise on territorial questions, although it would never return to the June 4,1967 boundaries.
Referring to the new relations between the U.S. and the Arab countries, Rabin said he was aware of the fact that Israel was used to a degree of exclusiveness in its relations with the U.S. and to some extent it was only natural to feel concern with the loss of that exclusiveness. However, the Premier said, “We live in a changing world and there is no way to ignore the change. Therefore we should learn to make the best out of the change.” This, Rabin said, should be done by using the American-Arab rapprochement to initiate political steps which will lead to an agreed peace. Rabin described friendship with the U.S. as one of the most important assets of Israel. He listed five areas in which Israel is dependent on the U.S. military assistance; economic assistance; deterrence against Soviet military intervention; international political assistance; and American role in making the State of Israel the home for every Jew in the world, and aiding all Jews who need that aid.
Rabin said he was convinced the U.S. would support Israel strongly in both the military and economic spheres. He said his confidence had been strengthened by his talks with Nixon, although he declined to say that long-term military or economic assistance programs had in fact been approved during the visit. Israeli officials had told newsmen before the visit that they hoped the President would give his final approval to such deals that would extend till the end of the decade. The Joint statement issued yesterday spoke of need for further negotiations on both issues.