JERUSALEM (Jun. 25)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin revealed today that negotiations toward a new interim agreement with Egypt are currently being conducted “in a quiet manner through diplomatic channels” but indicated that Israel will not be pressured into accepting any terms it considers unacceptable.
If the conditions of the other side in the present talks are not acceptable, Israel will have to say “no” again as it did last March, Rabin told 150 Israel Bond Organization leaders from seven European countries at a meeting here. He said, however, that Israel was in a better negotiating position now than it was last March during Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s “shuttle” efforts. The situation since then has not worsened “and perhaps even the opposite has happened,” Rabin said. But if the present talks break down, Israel will have to move toward the next step “to reach for an overall settlement which would be more difficult to achieve,” the Premier said.
PESSIMISTIC OUTLOOK ON FINAL PEACE
He expressed satisfaction that the new talks were proceeding quietly “through diplomatic channels” which, he said, was the best way to clarify the elements and the differences of opinion and to avoid too many expectations which would lead to too many disappointments. Rabin doubted the possibility of another interim agreement with Syria which, he said, could lead, to new tension in the area.
In comments before different groups, Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres seemed pessimistic about the chances of a final peace settlement in the Middle East, Peres, addressing the “Etgar” ideological group of the Labor Party in Tel Aviv tonight was, in fact, doubtful over reaching an interim settlement with the Egyptians. Rabin, who spoke at the Haifa Technion graduation exercises said there was no certainty that peace could be achieved through an interim settlement or even that such a settlement could be achieved with Egypt. He stressed that Israel faced a tough road ahead. It is engaged in a political and military struggle to reach peace, to prevent war and yet to be ready if a new war is forced on it. He said that Israel would know better in the next few weeks which road to take.
WOULD GIVE UP OILFIELDS, NOT PASSES
Peres maintained that Israel could not reach a general settlement unless it was prepared to see Jerusalem a divided city once again. This, in essence, is the Rogers Plan and the Americans know it, Peres declared. Replying to questions, he said it would be unwise for Israel to make an interim agreement with Egypt and not with Syria, but an agreement with the latter would require Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights, Peres said that Israel was prepared to give up the Abu Rodeis oilfields in return for an acceptable interim agreement with Egypt since the oilfields are a commercial venture. But Israel cannot give up the Gidi and Mitle Passes in Sinai because they are vital military positions, he said.