JERUSALEM (Jun. 1)
Premier Menachem Begin’s peace proposals were under sharp attack today from two former Labor Prime Ministers–Golda Meir and Yitzhak Rabin. Mrs. Meir spoke yesterday in an hour-long interview on Israel TV. Rabin spoke at the Shiloah Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University.
Mrs. Meir, strongly defending Israel’s foreign policy during her term as Premier, said that while she had no reason to doubt Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s sincerity in seeking peace with Israel, arrangements had to be made for the defense of Israel’s borders in case Sadat was replaced by a “less friendly” leader.
For that reason, she said, she objected to Israel’s total withdrawal from the Sinai and to Begin’s peace plan for the West Bank. She contended that Begin’s plan for administrative autonomy in the West Bank could lead very easily to the creation of a Palestinian state and was a threat to the basic goal of a state with a clear Jewish majority. She commented “some people give too little too late. Begin has given too much too early.”
Rabin asserted that the Begin government had inadvertently fallen into a trap and had agreed substantially to withdrawal from all Arab areas occupied after the Six-Day War and to the establishment of a “Palestinian entity” linked to the kingdom of Jordan.
Rabin asserted that the original U.S. goal was to seek a peaceful solution in the Middle East by mutual agreement with the Soviet Union but that American officials eventually realized that the Soviets aim only at fostering tensions.
CITES SOVIET AIM
Rabin said the Soviet aim is to encircle Europe via the Middle East, which is Europe’s source of energy, and via Africa, a major source of Europe’s raw materials. Rabin said the United States has usually been on the defensive in response.
Mrs. Meir said also that except for Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem last November, nothing has changed in the Egyptian policy toward Israel. Calling Sadat’s demands for total Israeli withdrawal from occupied areas an “ultimatum,” Mrs. Meir said there was currently no momentum in the Mideast negotiations.
She said her government had never missed any opportunity to negotiate with the Egyptians. She said that when Israel suggested, in the early 1970s, a partial withdrawal from the Suez Canal, at the initiative of then Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, the Egyptians offered nothing in return.
She said that at one time she favored allowing the Egyptians to keep policemen in the Sinai territory to be evacuated by Israel but that they insisted on allowing soldiers to cross the canal into the Sinai. She said she told American officials that a symbolic force of 50 Egyptian soldiers on the east side of the canal would not endanger Israel’s security but that Israel objected because there was a principle involved.
She said she once told Joseph Sisco, then Assistant Secretary of State, that Sadat was indeed very statesmanlike. “We offer him a partial withdrawal–and he accepts. We suggest the reopening of the Suez Canal–and he accepts. What a generous partner.”