Israel Seeks to Improve Its Image

Israel has launched an information campaign designed to improve its image in Western public opinion in preparation for this month’s foreign ministers talks in New York, according to political observers here.

The first move in this drive, according to the observer, was the speech by Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan last Thursday in the Knesset in which he went as for as saying that Israel would “consider” Arab proposals to divide the West Bank. So for the Israeli official view has simply been that the West Bank would never be returned to “foreign rule.”

In his speech, Dayan said he would present in New York a comprehensive Israeli peace plan–a step so far avoided by both the former Labor Alignment government and the present Likud government. Dayan refrained from stating a definite Israeli position on the future of the occupied territories. He preferred to speak of other options for a settlement, not necessarily territorial options.

Thus, Dayan stressed the need to obtain freedom of navigation in the Gulf of Eilat, but did not mention any Israeli demand to hold Sharm el Sheikh. He did not speak of the Golan Heights in territorial terms, but rather of Israel’s need to secure access to the sources of the Jordan River in the north.

On the West Bank, he did not repeat previous statements on the need to see the Jordan River as the border between Israel and any other Arab state, or Israel’s opposition to a third Arab state between Israel and Jordan. Dayan did mention Israel’s historical and national ties with the West Bank; but at the some time he did not reject a priori an Arab offer to discuss division of the West Bank.

However, opposition Knesseters said Dayan’s speech was different only in outward appearance, but there was no change in the rigid substance of the Israeli stand, which the opposition said could not be accepted by the Arab states and the U.S. (By Gil Sedan)

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