JERUSALEM (Sep. 19)
A new political storm seemed in the making today over publication of an article by Foreign Minister Yigal Allon in the American quarterly, Foreign Affairs, in which Allon presented detailed proposals for Israel’s future borders with its Arab neighbors.
The appearance of the article on the eve of the opening of the 31st United Nations General Assembly aroused strong criticism from both “doves” and “hawks” in Israel. The Likud, which insists on minimal pull-backs if any, has demanded an immediate debate in the Knesset.
Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban, who has often stated that Israel would have to make substantial territorial concessions to achieve a peace settlement, strongly criticized publication of the Allon proposals at this time as a tactical error. He said the proposals themselves would not encourage Arabs to negotiate for peace and would weaken Israel’s position in Washington. A spokesman for Premier Yitzhak Rabin said the chief executive had not been consulted prior to publication, a hint that Rabin disapproved. The Cabinet was expected to discuss the Allon article at its weekly session today. (Cabinet story P. 3)
STRATEGIC AREAS TO BE RETURNED
Allon himself appeared on television over the weekend to stress that Israel would never return to its pre-June 1967 boundaries because they were indefensible. He said that his proposals made clear that Israel intended to remain permanently in control of strategic territories vital to its defense against Arab attack and that it would reject any attempt to impose a settlement inimical to Israel’s security requirements.
What appeared to be most disconcerting even to moderates here was the stress on territorial changes. Israel’s political line, which is expected to be emphasized at the forthcoming General Assembly, is that the crux of the Middle East conflict is not territorial disputes but Arab refusal to accept Israel as an independent, sovereign state in the region. According to that view, if the Arabs reverse their position, territorial issues could be settled with relative ease.
Allon’s territorial proposals were delineated in a map accompanying the 14-page article in the October issue of Foreign Affairs. While Israeli leaders have often spoken of territorial concessions in the framework of a negotiated peace, they have carefully refrained from publishing maps. Allon himself disavowed the map in a message to Foreign Affairs. He said he had not seen or approved it before publication and that it does not accurately reflect his views.
William P. Bundy, editor of Foreign Affairs, confirmed that the map was not Allon’s but originated with the magazine’s editors and “was intended only to be illustrative of the general outlines of Mr. Allon’s proposals.”
ELEMENTS OF ALLON’S PROPOSALS
Allon proposed in his article the creation of demilitarized zones on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip. Israel would continue to occupy the sparsely populated western and eastern fringes of the West Bank, up to the Jordan River. The Arab populated central highlands would become what he described as a Palestinian-Jordanian entity with a narrow corridor connecting it to the east bank of the Jordan River.
Jerusalem and its environs would remain part of Israel. The city of Gaza would be part of the Palestinian-Jordanian entity and would have access to the Arab portions of the West Bank which it would serve as a seaport. There would be no corridor, however, through Israeli territory.
In the Sinai, Allon proposed a boundary extending from a point north of El Arish to the Red Sea, allowing Israel to control Sharm el-Sheikh and the strategic Straits of Tiran to fore-close the possibility of any future Arab blockade of the port of Eilat. The Golan Heights border would run just west of the 1967 lines to protect settlements in northern Israel from shelling by Syrian guns.
Allon stressed that Israel has no desire to in-corporate a large Arab population. He noted that his proposals would “leave almost all of the Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank under Arab rule.”
The proposals contained in the Foreign Affairs article resemble to some extent the unofficial Allon plan of 1967 which has been neither accepted nor rejected by the government. They differ in their stress on a Palestinian-Jordanian entity rather than an exclusively Palestinian state on the West Bank. Allon pointed out in his article that the population on both banks of the Jordan is Palestinian and that “the great majority of the Palestinians carry Jordanian passports while almost all of Jordan’s inhabitants are Palestinians.”
He wrote: “According to the compromise formula I personally advocate, Israel–within the context of a peace settlement–would give up the large majority of the areas which fell into its hands in the 1967 war.” The only territories he would not concede were those necessary for defense. These, however, would constitute about 40 percent of the territories Israel has administered since 1967.
In his article, Allon rejected the notion that Israel’s Arab adversaries comprise a monolithic bloc, though he admitted that “the elements of realism and peace are represented by a small minority of voices in the discordant Arab chorus against Israel. And even those voices are inhibited by negative pre-conditions.”
ARABS NOT A MONOLITHIC BLOC
The Israeli Foreign Minister stated, however: “Certainly not all the Arab states are cut from the same cloth: nor are their approaches to Israel identical. In the Arab camp there are more extreme elements that openly express their intention of destroying Israel.
“And there are other elements and people in the Arab world who, in the last two or three years, have expressed themselves toward Israel in less aggressive and more realistic terms than in the none too distant past when their declarations have been directed to the world at large.
“All things considered, it is in strengthening these latter elements to the extent that they become decisive in the Arab world that the best chance lies to achieve compromise and reconciliation between Israel and the Arab states–in short, to achieve a full settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” He conceded, however, that “that day, whenever it comes, is still far distant.”