TEL AVIV (Dec. 26)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Commerce Minister Haim Barlev, both former Chiefs of Staff, addressed themselves yesterday to the issue of whether Israel should make further territorial concessions. Rabin affirmed that “in the political sphere Israel stands firm. It will not make any concessions which can endanger it unless there is a chance for an advance towards peace.” Barlev stated that he would favor territorial concessions on all fronts–including the return of the Abu Rodeis oil fields to Egypt–”in return for very substantial compensation” and for “serious political agreements.”
Rabin stated that Israel “is ready to make every effort to reach peace, but not at any price and not under imposed conditions. We shall lose no opportunity to negotiate and will do so from a position of strength.” The Premier added that Israel is “stronger, readier and more prepared psychologically for war than ever before, if it is forced on us. We don’t want war. but we shall not be panicked by threats of war, We shall stand firm where we have to and fight when necessary.”
Barlev, in advocating concessions, also warned the Arabs that if they continue to reject Israel’s willingness to compromise “I assume Israel’s slow penetration into the occupied territories will continue.” On related matters, he acknowledged that the future status of Jerusalem posed “a difficult problem, not only with the Arabs but in our dialogue with the United States.”
The Commerce Minister stated that the decision to found an industrial zone at Maale Adumim on the West Bank east of Jerusalem was an example of Israel’s determination to entrench itself in the territories in the absence of peace. “A year ago, Maale Adumim did not exist. A year from now it will. We told this to the Jordanians many times,” he said.
Barlev ruled out a preventive war by Israel. “I know there are such ideas,” he said, “but I don’t think they are sensible.” He said the only conditions that would cause Israel to launch a first strike was irrefutable evidence that the Arabs intended to make war or violations of the disengagement agreements that would give the enemy substantial military advantages.