Sharon: Israel Stronger Now Than Last Oct.; Opposes Giving Up ‘pieces of Land for Pieces of Peace’

Gen, Arik Sharon (Res.), who led his troops behind the Egyptian lines during the Yom Kippur War and now is a leader of Israel’s opposition Likud bloc in the Knesset, said here that Israel today “is much stronger than a year ago.” He affirmed that Israel continues to strive for peace, “but I am not sure we are going to have peace.” Sharon, who is in this country for a two-week visit sponsored by the Zionist Organization of America, made these remarks at a press conference Friday sponsored by the ZOA.

“We are ready to meet any challenges.” he told reporters. “While we hope for peace, we are ready to fight.” Asked if a new Arab-Israel war is likely to erupt, Sharon said “It is up to the Arabs.” Throughout his press conference he repeated that there must be an overall settlement and said he was opposed to giving up “pieces of land for pieces of peace.” He asserted that Israelis were generally in agreement that Israel cannot relinquish the Golan Heights, and therefore little chance that Syria would conclude a peace treaty “when we are sitting” on the Heights.

Sharon also stated that Israel should not return Sharm el Sheikh, felt that the West Bank is part of Israel, ruled out a third state between the Mediterranean Sea and the desert, and rejected any negotiations between Israel and any of the Arab terrorist leaders. He did say, however that there were “many possibilities” for negotiations with Egypt on the future of Sinai, including an Egyptian administration of the peninsula.

URGES WEST TO ACT IN OIL CRISIS

Discussing the world oil crisis, the Likud leader warned that the “time has arrived” for the West to show that it is impossible for it “to be ruined economically and socially by a few Arab sheikhs.” He stated that the western nations should “stand up and say no” to the oil-rich states. “The free world must not be ruled by Saudi Arabia, Abu Dabi or Watar,” Sharon said. He asserted that Israel would cooperate with the United States and Europe in bringing pressure on the oil-producing states. There are many possibilities for dealing with the oil problem, he observed, including “economic, political and military pressure.” Sharon, however, did not call for military intervention.

He emphasized that there is a tendency to underestimate Israel. This is a mistake, he warned, adding: “When it comes to the further existence of Israel we are united more than ever.” Sharon emphasized that the U.S. should not try to pressure Israel to make concessions which would threaten Israel’s security and avoided answering a question about an Israeli-U.S. alliance similar to the alliance Israel made with France and Britain in 1956 when Egypt seized the Suez Canal. Sharon was introduced at the press conference by ZOA President Dr. Joseph P. Sternstein.

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