Peres Says Step-by-step Approach Best Way to Break Mideast Impasse

Defense Minister Shimon Peres said last night that with impasse threatening Middle East peace moves, the best hope to break it might be a revival of the step-by-step approach where by the Arabs offer “pieces of peace for pieces of land.” His remarks, in an address to 250 Israel Bond leaders from the U.S. headed by general chairman Samuel Rothberg, were at sharp variance with the approach of Premier Yitzhak Rabin who has pressed recently for a resumption of the Geneva peace conference aimed at a final settlement of the Middle East conflict.

Some observers recalled that after the Israeli-Egyptian Sinai accord was signed last Sept. 1, Peres went on record in favor of further interim arrangements with Egypt while Rabin said flatly that he wanted no more interim agreements, only a final accord.

Peres told the Bond leaders that Egypt has not replaced its Yom Kippur War losses and has cut itself off from large-scale Soviet military supplies. He said that gave Israel cause to hope that Egypt is interested in a peaceful settlement and did not intend to resort to the war option.

However, the Defense Minister expressed serious concern over the army stockpiling by other Arab states, particularly Libya which, he said, was becoming a veritable arsenal. He also said that the stepped-up terrorist activity on Israel’s northern borders yesterday was designed to coincide with the opening of the Security Council’s debate on the Middle East.

FOREIGN CURRENCY RESERVES SHORT

Finance Minister Yehoshua Rabinowitz told the delegates that Israel has foreign currency reserves sufficient to last only 5-6 weeks at the current rate of imports. He said Israel’s foreign currency deficit in 1975 stood at nearly $4 billion, a four-fold increase since the Yom Kippur War. “We are receiving financial assistance from the U.S. but it is limited and there is no certainty what it will amount to in future years,” he said.

Yosef Almogi. chairman of the World Zionist Organization Executive, said the time has come to think no longer of three million Jews in Israel but of a 14.5 million-strong Jewish nation throughout the world. The Bond delegates attended the opening of Israel’s celebration of the American bicentennial. Premier Yitzhak Rabin initiated the construction of a true to scale replica of the Liberty Bell in the newly established Liberty Bell Garden in Jerusalem.

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