NEW YORK (Oct. 7)
Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon told the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations today that the Israeli-Egyptian agreement on the Sinai served the strategic interests of both Israel and the United States. He said the Presidents Conference was “indispensable in the effort to mobilize Jewish and public support for Israel’s cause in the United States.”
Allon also stressed that the “cost-effectiveness” of American aid to Israel is higher than in any other country that benefits from American aid. “If other states were willing to spend and to commit themselves as much to their own defense as we are to ours, the United States will be in a far better position around the world,” he declared. He noted that U.S. allies in Western Eur- ope spend only four percent of their gross national product on defense while Israel spends about one-third.
However, Allon noted that “a viable defensible democratic state in the Middle East which serves American interests was not the reason for the Herzlian dream of rebuilding the Jewish State.” But, he added, “that fact helps to strengthen Israel and to solidify the ties between the U.S. and the Jewish State.”
The Israeli Foreign Minister acknowledged that some American Jews have criticized the agreement with Egypt. “Let them consider that the alternative might have led to war,” he declared, “and let them come over to Israel and fight.” This statement was greeted with ringing applause. He said that if Egypt violated the accord, Israel’s military posture was strong enough to defend itself. He noted that an Egyptian violation would solidify both American and West European support for Israel.
WILL PLAY IT COOL WITH SYRIA
Speaking to representatives of the 32 constituent bodies of the Presidents Conference, Allon also stressed that there was “no pressure whatsoever” by the U.S. on Israel to negotiate with Syria. “No one has to pressure us to continue the search for peace with each of our neighbors, including Syria, with whom we are willing and eager to negotiate, in accordance with UN (Security Council) Resolution 338.”
He cited statements by Syria’s Foreign Minister Abdul Halim Khaddam at the General Assembly rejecting any negotiations and warned that Syria might seek to create “an artificial crisis” as the Nov. 30 date for the renewal of the UN forces on the Golan Heights approaches. Allon said Israel would “play it cool, whether Syria renews the agreement or not. Meanwhile, the ball is in Syria’s court, not ours.”
Speaking of his three-hour meeting with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, Allon said it had been “an important talk” and provided a “rare opportunity to review in detail with the Soviet Foreign Minister the situation in the Middle East and to discuss areas both of agreement and disagreement.”
ISRAEL’S POSITION IN UN IMPROVED
Allon said Israel’s position at the UN was “significantly improved” and contrasted the difficulty Israel had faced in convincing other governments of its commitments to peace and the UN action in inviting Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat to address the General Assembly last year with the “new appreciation” of Israel’s peaceful intention. He also noted the failure of the anti-Israel bloc to fulfill its goal of suspending Israel from the UN but said their new tactic was to condemn Zionism as an evil equal to racism and apartheid.
However, he noted that “Israel’s enemies are not having so easy a time in the UN as they had expected,” not only because of United States and other Western opposition but because some African countries are concerned that the refusal of many countries to support the condemnation of Zionism will lead to a weakening of the anti-apartheid vote. Allon praised Israel’s representatives at the UN for doing a “magnificent job” and said the U.S. attitude was “very helpful both in public statements and private representations.”