JERUSALEM (Jul. 30)
Defense Minister Shimon Peres said last night that he favored an American presence in the buffer zone between Israel and Syria on the Golan Heights. He said such a presence could expedite an interim accord between Israel and Syria which, he indicated, would be much more difficult to achieve than one with Egypt in Sinai because there is much less room for maneuvering on the Golan and Israel has established settlements there which it will not remove under any circumstances.
Speaking on a television interview, the Defense Minister also explained why he favored American personnel over UN personnel to man an advance warning station in Sinai in the event of an interim agreement with Egypt. Peres’ idea of an American surveillance role in Sinai was, according to unconfirmed reports, included in the latest Israeli proposals for an interim accord submitted to Egypt a week ago by the U.S. Ambassador, Hermann Eilts. A State Department spokesman said at the time that the U.S. had received no such proposal from either side.
Peres, who with Premier Yitzhak Rabin and Foreign Minister Yigal Allon, comprises Israel’s ministerial negotiating team, said the Egyptians would hesitate to demand, unilaterally, the withdrawal of American personnel but would be less reluctant to order out the UN as the late President Gamel Abdel Nasser did in May. 1967. He rejected comparisons between an American surveillance role in Sinai and the situation in Vietnam a decade ago, pointing out that an American presence would be part of an interim accord and therefore acceptable to both sides and would not involve military personnel.
Peres appeared on television several hours after a similar interview with Allon, Both leaders made it clear that the expulsion of Israel from the UN would effectively end any UN role in a Middle East peace settlement, But if Israel’s ouster came about, thereby destroying the effectiveness of the UN, it would not necessarily mean an end to peace efforts in the Middle East as far as Israel is concerned, Peres said.
He stated that the negotiations, now officially under UN patronage, would have to be conducted under a different framework, possibly in face-to-face negotiations, Allon said yesterday that the success of Arab expulsion moves was far from being a foregone conclusion, that Israel had potent counter-weapons and powerful friends and that its ouster could have disastrous consequences for the UN and the Arab states seeking it. (See story in July 29 JTA Daily News Bulletin.)
TRAIN IS AT LAST STATION
Both Peres and Allon made it clear that Israel’s latest proposals for an interim accord with Egypt represented the absolute maximum that Israel is prepared to offer in exchange for a partial settlement. “The train has reached its last station. There are no more stations,” Peres declared.
He said a final decision would have to made sooner or later and that since Israel has reached the limit of its concessions, it was up to Egypt. He observed that despite all of the difficulties, the negotiations are continuing but declined to elaborate on details of the latest talks or the maps and counter-maps presented by Israel and Egypt.
DIFFICULTIES OVER WEST BANK
Peres also referred to the future of the West Bank which must eventually come up for negotiations. He said that issue was vastly complicated by the Rabat summit decision of the Arab states last October which conferred on the Palestine Liberation Organization the status of sole representative and spokesman for the West Bankers.
Because of that decision, Jordan was, for the time being at least, no longer a potential negotiating partner for Israel and the PLO could never be such a partner because Israel would never negotiate with the terrorist organization. Consequently, a political vacuum was created, Peres said. He suggested some sort of federation eventually as a way out of the impasse but did not elaborate. He predicted great difficulties in negotiating over the West Bank, especially because it would include the issue of Jerusalem’s status which, as far as Israel is concerned, is not negotiable.