Shavuot Begins with Anxiety About Jordanian Build-up

Israeli housewives cleared grocery shelves of cheese for the traditional “blintzes” on Shavuot eve while the nation’s leaders, casting an uneasy eye on the massing of Jordanian troops and armor near Israel’s eastern border, warned today that while Israel was ready to make peace it was strong enough to defeat any attack.

Shavuot, the Feast of Bikurim, commenced at sundown. In ancient times it was the occasion for bringing the first crops of the spring harvest to the Temple priests. Today, gifts were made to the Jewish National Fund. Newspapers heralded spring by publishing with bright green headlines and any resemblance to St. Patrick’s Day was purely coincidental.

At Kibbutz Gennosar on the Sea of Galilee, Premier Yitzhak Rabin joined Foreign Minister Yigal Allon at the latter’s home for the annual spring reception for leaders of Israeli minority groups–Arabs, Druze, Circassians–and for foreign ambassadors and the mayors of Israeli towns.

Israel is strong and confident and able to defend herself against any threat of war, Rabin declared. Because Israel is strong, she wants to make peace, and the first condition is the acceptance by the Arab leaders of a strong and sovereign Israel and their willingness to sit down with Israel’s leaders to solve all outstanding problems, Rabin said. He added that with good will, all problems can be solved.

JORDAN WARNED ABOUT BUILD-UP

Allon told the guests that the failure of the recent bilateral talks with Egypt conducted by Secretary of State Henry A, Kissinger was not the end of the chapter but only a page. He said Israel was ready for unconditional negotiations at Geneva or anywhere else with Egypt and with all the Arabs. He said that within the framework of peace, the Palestinians would be granted an expression of their identity in a constructive manner.

However, Allon warned Jordan to tone down its war talk and not to indulge in displays of strength. The Jordanian military build-up just east of the Jordan River continued today. Jordanian forces are deployed on the western slopes of the Gilead and Ammon mountains overlooking the river. Military circles said the Jordanian moves were not a war game or exercise. Defense Minister Shimon Peres and Chief of Staff Gen. Mordechai Gur toured the Jordan Valley settlements yesterday. (By Yitzhak Shargil)

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