Dayan Hints He Favors Non-committal Reply by Israel to U.S. Questions on West Bank

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan said today that it was premature for Israel to make any concrete statements on the future of the West Bank after the five year interim of “self rule” proposed in its peace plan. “Much depends on what will happen during the five years,” Dayan said at a meeting organized by the government information center here.

His remarks indicated he would advocate a non-committal reply by Israel to the American questions now under study by the Cabinet with respect to the future at the West Bank and political self-expression for the Palestinians. He said the West Bank sovereignty issue could be left open for “at least” five years and if it is eventually raised, Israel would assert its claim to the territory.

The Cabinet began consideration of the American questions at its session last Sunday. It is expected to formulate a reply when it meets again June 12. At Sunday’s meeting, moderate ministers of the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) were reported to have called for “positive” responses while Herut hard-liners urged a vague formulation. Dayan’s remarks today indicated that he favored the latter. Washington is believed to regard Israel’s reply as crucial to a resumption of the stalled Israeli-Egyptian peace talks.

LINKS SECURITY AND ‘MESSIANIC CLAIMS’

Dayan said he thought it was possible for Jordan to accept Israel’s “self rule” offer on the West Bank as the first stage of an eventual settlement. He added that it would have been “far fetched” for Israel to have offered more “as a first stage.” He was critical of the distinction made by his DMC colleagues and the opposition Labor Alignment between Israel’s security considerations and the so-called “messianic” claims to the West Bank. He charged that this was “dangerous demagogy” that weakens Israel’s arguments against returning to its 1967 borders. “If we could only get an agreement on security considerations, the so-called messianic remainder would then be easy to resolve,” Dayan said. He was referring to the historical-religious factors that Premier Menachem Begin and his Herut and religious supporters cite to justify their contention that the West Bank rightfully belongs to Israel.

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