TEL AVIV (Nov. 18)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin said last night that Israel’s partial mobilization over the weekend may have averted a Syrian attack. “We mobilized only a very limited number of reservists… (but) when the other side sees that there is no possibility of surprising us, the temptation to go to war is reduced,” Rabin told an audience of 2500 attending the triennial International convention of B’nai B’rith at the Mann Auditorium here.
The Premier was referring to the war scare of the past few days which has abated. He acknowledged, however, that the prospects for peace in the Middle East at the present time have diminished as a result of the Rabat summit conference. He said PLO chief Yasir Arafat’s speech to the UN General Assembly last week “rejected the right of Jews to live in their own sovereign state.”
He called the UN’s effusive welcome of Arafat a “victorious revival of Hitlerism.” But, he said, Israel recognizes the goal of the terrorists and their strategy for reaching it. “We are prepared to face them. There will be no talks with this group (the PLO). The only place we shall meet them is on the battlefield.” Rabin said.
Arafat’s speech to the UN was the subject of debate at this morning’s Knesset session in response to five urgent agenda motions submitted by various factions. Likud leader Menachem Beigin opened the debate by noting that the important thing was not what Arafat said but that the terrorist chief “was standing on the UN rostrum and was cheered by UN members.” This, Beigin said, “is the warning to us and to our sons.”
Responding for the government, Foreign Minister Yigal Allon said the one benefit of Arafat’s speech was that it made clear to the world the terrorists’ aim to annihilate Israel. “I should like to believe that after Arafat’s speech our friends do not expect us to recognize the PLO or to negotiate with it,” Allon said.
PEACE, NOT MILITARY ARRANGEMENTS
Rabin, In his address to the B’nal B’rith convention, reaffirmed that Israel’s desire and goal is for peace with its neighbors. He said Israel would adhere to its disengagement agreements with Egypt and Syria “as long as the other sides respect it mutually.” He called the agreements an important move toward consolidation of the cease-fire and on the road to peace.
“We are prepared to continue seeking peace, a peace settlement, a peace agreement or something similar, but not military arrangements,” Rabin said. He said those had already been made under the disengagement agreements. “In the future, we shall seek actual significant moves toward peace,” the Premier said, but cautioned that in the meantime, Israel needs to be prepared for war.
U.A. Ambassador Kenneth Keating, who also addressed the B’nai B’rith convention, said the change of administration in Washington made no change in American policy in the Middle East. He said the special relationship between the U.S. and Israel continued and would continue in the future.