Eban Urges Confidence in Active U.S. Participation in Mideast Peace Talks

The Israeli people should have confidence in the “active participation” of the United States in a Middle East peace agreement, former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban said last night at the annual Liberal Party dinner, held at the Americana Hotel.

Eban, a featured speaker at the fund-raiser where the Democratic State Gubernatorial ticket was endorsed by the Liberals, said that the significance of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s journey to Jerusalem last November was the fact that it “separated us from our past.” For the first time, Eban said, the Arab world was presented with a vision of the Middle East which included Israel as a sovereign state. For the Israelis, he said, Sadat’s visit incurred a “sudden breach in Jewish skepticism which is part of our character.”

Eban said that, until a few weeks ago, the “gulf of alienation” between Israel and Egypt had grown again, and a third party was needed to breach the misunderstandings. He stressed that without American mediation, Israel and Egypt could not have achieved the 1974 and 1975 interim agreements in Sinai and they could not have proceeded to Camp David where a signed agreement resulted between them.

Eban said that the Knesset’s vote last week to approve the Camp David accords indicates the Israelis’ feeling that “peace is an objective which must also incur risks.” The alternative of eliminating Israel, he said, has proved “illusory” to the Arabs, and “it is only when you close the door to aggression that you open it to reconciliation.”

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