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Rabin: Willing to Discuss with Egypt Mutual Border Changes in Sinai

Former Premier Yitzhak Robin said last night that he would be willing to discuss mutual border changes with Egypt in Sinai but would defer the question of the West Bank for five years because there is no solution in sight and in his opinion Israel cannot agree to any territorial concessions in that region.

Addressing members of Histadrut affiliated agricultural enterprises, Rabin stressed that he based his views strictly on security considerations rather than the historical, ideological and religious concepts often raised by Premier Menachem Begin and his constituents.

He said there was a difference between Sinai and the West Bank and that Israel could afford territorial compromises in the former on a quid pro quo basis. He said Israel could not relinquish the Rafah salient or its military airfield at Etzion near Eilat because those regions control an invasion route into the Negev. But the future of Sharm el- Sheikh, he said, should be subject to different considerations.

Rabin said there was not a single Arab leader who would agree to territorial compromise on the West Bank at this time and that in any event, Israel cannot accept minor modifications because the West Bank is the ideal staging area for a thrust against Israel’s most populated regions.

RAP REJECTION OF GOODWILL GESTURE

Addressing the Labor Party Bureau later, Rabin and former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon criticized the Likud government for its out-of -hand rejection of President Anwar Sadat’s request for the return of El Arish in northern Sinai and Mt. Sinai to Egyptian civil administration as a goodwill gesture to advance peace talks. Rabin said the government, at the very least, should have studied Sadat’s request before replying

Allon said the government’s handling of the matter gave Sadat another opportunity to present Israel as the party responsible for stalling negotiations. Labor Alignment chairman Shimon Peres said Begin’s fear of a dispute with the hard-line members of his coalition inhibited him from making serious political decisions. “Is the well-being of the Cabinet more important to Begin than the well-being of the country?” Peres asked. (By Yitzhak Shargil)

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