Rabin Says Sadat’s Warning to Syria is a Significant Development

Premier Yitzhak Rabin described as “an important development” of “great significance” Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s reported warning to Syria over the weekend that if Syria initiated a war against Israel, Egypt would not be drawn in. Addressing the Labor Alignment Executive in the Knesset, Rabin chided the Israeli media for giving Sadat’s statement very “modest” treatment. He observed that if the Egyptian President had said the opposite, it would have made big headlines all over Israel.

Rabin also reported that Jordan has “strongly rejected” a proposal by Syria to establish a Syrian-Jordanian-PLO military alliance. However, the Premier cautioned that these developments did not mean that Israel could relax its preparedness for any contingency.

The Premier was obviously seeking to stress positive developments arising from his foreign policy which has come under strong criticism of late from within his own party as well as the opposition. He elucidated further on the Cabinet’s controversial decision to assent to an American initiative aimed at exploring the attitudes of Egypt. Syria and Jordan toward a non-belligerency agreement with Israel.

Rabin told the Alignment members that the proposal was made by the U.S. during his recent visit to Washington as an alternative to PLO participation in the Geneva conference. Rabin said he was told by American officials that moves were underway to reconvene the Geneva talks with the PLO, and since both Israel and the U.S. could not agree to the PLO presence, they had to find alternative measures to keep up the negotiating momentum in the Middle East. Rabin said that all aspects of the meaning of “end of war” or non-belligerence were being explored, but mainly the legal meaning.

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