TEL AVIV (Sep. 7)
With Israel’s new agreement with Egypt less than a week old, Premier Yitzhak Rabin made it clear over the weekend that Israel could not possibly contemplate a similar interim accord with Syria, mainly because the Golan Heights does not offer the same wide area for territorial withdrawals and Israel would never agree to any disengagement plan that would jeopardize the existence of its settlements on the Heights.
The Premier expressed his views in pre-Rosh Hashanah interviews published in Yediot Achronot and other newspapers and in a broadcast interview in which he offered a realistic assessment of what the new year holds in store for his nation. Rabin stated that the prospects of a second disengagement agreement with Syria were next to nil and said it would be better to discuss a final settlement with that country than the step-by-step approach taken with Egypt.
Rabin also insisted that the interim pact with Egypt contained no Israeli commitment to the U.S. or to Egypt that Israel would enter into a similar accord with Syria. Asked in the broadcast interview about unconfirmed reports that the U.S. was urging Israel to start negotiations with Syria soon in order to maintain the momentum toward peace on all fronts, the Premier replied, “I do not know what the position of the United States will be when this issue will become concrete.”
He added that “Israel is free to take any position it may regard as necessary.” Pressed as to what Israel’s reply would be if the U.S. proposed, in two or three months, that negotiations begin with Syria, Rabin said, “We shall wait two or three months and see what they propose and the Cabinet will have to take a decision.”
CONCERNED ABOUT SOVIET ROLE
The Israeli leader expressed serious concern, however, that the Soviet Union might attempt to jeopardize the process of implementing the new pact with Egypt, not directly but through extremist Arab countries such as Libya and through terrorist organizations. Rabin said the Soviets were angered and chagrined by the American success in achieving an interim accord under its sponsorship.
He said, “In my view there is no detente in the Middle East between the powers–or else it exists in such an obscure and limited fashion that to all intents and purposes it does not exist at all,” He also took note of the “confrontation” the pact triggered between Egypt and the more extreme elements of the Arab world which, he said, bears watching. (See separate story on Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger’s view.)
Rabin said the question of future negotiations with Jordan was even more complicated than with Syria because the Arab world has revoked Jordan’s putative mandate over Judaea-Samaria (West Bank) and has given it to the terrorist organizations with which Israel is not prepared to negotiate. He said that as matters stand now, there is no party with which Israel can discuss a settlement on the West Bank.
Following the example set by the late Premier David Ben Gurion after Israel was forced by combined American and Soviet pressure to pull out of the Sinai in 1956-57, Rabin met Thursday night with senior military officers from the rank of Colonel up to explain the military consequences of the latest Israeli pull-back in Sinai. He discussed the advantages and dangers of the accord that had been signed earlier in the day by Israeli and Egyptian delegates in Geneva. No details of his talk were reported.