Golda: Despite Differences, the U.S. Continues to Be Israel’s Best Friend

Former Israeli Premier Golda Meir said after a 45-minute meeting with President Carter at the White House today that despite their differences Israel and the United States continue to be “very friendly governments.” She told reporters that “Israel is always conscious of the fact that we don’t have a better friend than the U.S.” and “therefore a misunderstanding, a disagreement hurts more.”

Mrs. Meir stressed that she was here as a private person, not as a representative of the Israeli government and said that it would be improper for her to disclose what the President said at their meeting. But she acknowledged that the subject of their conversation was the Middle East. She praised the President as “very gracious, very kind, he listened to what I had to say.” She said she had no doubts about his “good intentions” but added, “people with the best intentions can make mistakes.”

The 79-year-old former Israeli leader was vehement in proclaiming Israel’s unwavering opposition to a Palestinian homeland or state, claiming that such entity would be “a threat to Israel’s existence” and “is not necessary for the Palestinians.”

Mrs. Meir was accompanied to the White House by Israeli Ambassador Simcha Dinitz. Others present during her meeting with Carter were Zbigniew Brzezinski, the President’s National Security Advisor; William Quant, Middle East expert on the National Security Council; and the President’s aides, Robert Lipshutz and Stuart Eizenstat. She was escorted by Brzezinski when she left the meeting to talk to reporters.

Asked if she felt President Carter was trying to put pressure on Israel. Mrs. Meir observed that Israel “had differences of opinion with the government before this one and the government before that and the government before that. We’re not one people in the same country with the same territory,” she said. “We should not expect that there never will be differences between us and the U.S. or our government and another country or the U.S. with another country. The basic principle–the basis for all this–is that we are two very friendly governments. It’s easier to fight against enemies than friends,” she said.

QUESTION OF METHODS, NOT GOAL

She added, “There is no doubt in my mind or in the mind of any Israeli that the President is very much interested in and desirous of peace in the Middle East.” She said that “the methods” may be different on how to go to the Geneva conference but “not whether and not on peace.” She said the problem is “what road do you take without causing a greater crisis or going to Geneva and nothing happens.”

Asked, “Do you have faith in this President?” Mrs. Meir replied, “We don’t doubt his good intentions. People with the best intentions make mistakes, not because they have intentions against peace and against Israel.”

Asked if a Palestinian homeland would ever be accepted by Israel, Mrs. Meir replied, “It isn’t essential and necessary to Israel and is not necessary for the Palestinians.” She said Israel does not accept a Palestinian state because it would be “dangerous for Israel…a threat to Israel’s existence and it is not necessary for the Arabs.” Asked if she didn’t think Palestinians have rights to a homeland, Mrs. Meir asked, “When did you last hear there was a Palestinian who needed a homeland in addition” to the one in which he lives?

She pointed out that after the Six-Day War, the UN spoke of Palestinian refugees, not a Palestinian state. “There is no reason whatever why it (the Palestinian question) can’t be solved in Jordan. I don’t deny there are refugees but that is because the Arab states don’t want to solve the refugee problem,” Mrs. Meir said.

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