NEW YORK (Feb. 12)
Israeli Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan said today that Secretary of State Cyrus Vance was “taking sides” with Egypt in his weekend statement criticizing Israel. He said if Vance was not speaking for himself alone but for the Carter Administration then the “Administration is taking sides,” too.
Dayan’s remarks were made on NBC-TV’s “Meet the Press” in response to a question about the statement issued by the Israel Cabinet earlier today rejecting Vance’s charges that the Israeli settlements in the Sinai are illegal and should be removed.
The Israeli Foreign Minister said that perhaps the Administration felt it had to give Egyptian President Anwar Sadat more support after his visit to Washington. But he said if Vance, who he was taking sides it would not make the Secretary’s job as a mediator easier.
Dayan stressed that the Israeli peace plan, which he said President Carter found to be “satisfactory,” included Israel keeping its settlements in the Sinai. When questioned whether the President had ever used the word “satisfactory,” Dayan said he was not at liberty to give the exact word but “we had the President’s blessings for the plan.”
The Israeli peace plan was a package which included retention of the settlements, the three Israeli airfields in the Sinai, and Sharm el-Sheikh as well as proposals for Egyptian and Israeli troops, Dayan pointed out. He said Sadat was given this plan with the understanding that he would make a counter offer and then negotiations would begin. “Everything is negotiable,” Dayan stressed.
But, he added, the Sinai settlements were not the major obstacle to a settlement but Egyptian demands that Israel withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza with a Palestinian state being created there. “I don’t think this will ever be accepted in Israel,” he said.
Dayan said that Israel felt that it must always have some troops in the West Bank and Gaza to protect Israel’s security. He said the Israeli peace plan provided for this with minimal interference in the every day life of the local Arabs.
RIGHT TO SET UP MILITARY BASES
The Foreign Minister declared that Israel has the right to set up military bases anywhere in the occupied areas. He said he promised Carter last September that for a year no new civilian settlements would be established except within the confines of the military bases. But Dayan stressed the right of Israelis to live on the West Bank. “We are not foreigners on the West Bank, he said. He said that just as every Bedouin has a right to buy land and build a house there so do Jews.
Columnist Rowland Evans told Dayan that U.S. aid amounts to some $700 for each Israeli annually even though the U.S. itself has such problems as unemployment and blighted cities. He asked whether this did not make it incumbent on Israel to listen to the American view.
Dayan replied that Israel must decide for itself on its security. “I don’t think that we ever asked you to fight for us, that you fought for us, or that we should rely on you taking care of us. So when it comes to our lives and security we have to decide how we are going to defend our country.”