NEW YORK (Oct. 30)
Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin again cited Israeli law last night as the reason he could not comment on reports that censors deleted a section from his memoirs describing the expulsion of 50,000 Arabs from Lod and Ramle during Israel’s War of Independence.
But Rabin told an overflow audience at Manhattan’s Congregation B’nai Jeshurun that during the 1948-49 war, which he described as the “longest, most bitter war” in Israel’s history, both Arab and Jewish settlements were destroyed and both Arabs and Jews had to evacuate settlements.
Rabin’s remarks were made at the opening session of the Conservative congregation’s “Dialogue ’79″ series in which he answered questions on a wide range of subjects posed to him by Rabbi William Berkowitz, spiritual leader of the congregation and creator of the 29-year-old series. When Berkowitz asked him about a recent New York Times report that censors deleted a section on the expulsion of the Arab: on Premier David Ben Gurion’s orders, Rabin said if there were such an “alleged” account in his book, “The Rabin Memoirs, “and if it was censored he would not be able to discuss it under Israeli law.
But Rabin, who was a brigade commander in the War of Independence, urged people before they judge what happened in a war to find out who started it. He pointed out that Israel’s leaders had been ready to accept the truncated state recommended by the United Nations but first Arabs in Palestine attacked the Jews and then Israel was invaded by the armies of seven Arab states. He said half of the Israeli civilians and soldiers killed in Israel’s 31-year history died in that war.
He said if the Arabs had accepted partition, as Israel had, there would not be now more than 30 years of prolonged war, or a Palestinian refugee problem or would there have been the large number of Jewish refugees that came from Arab countries after the War of Independence.
SOLUTION TO THE WEST BANK
Turning to current issues, Rabin repeated his belief that a solution to the West Bank should come through an agreement between Israel and Jordan rather than the autonomy proposed by Premier Menachem Begin. He said a West Bank controlled by Jordan will always see Amman as its capital, not Jerusalem, while he believes the Arabs elected to the self-governing authority would agitate for East Jerusalem as their capital.
Rabin a leader of the Labor Party opposition, said the difference over the West Bank with the Begin government is one of attitude. He said both believe in the historic right of Jews to all of Eretz Israel, that Jerusalem should remain Undivided as Israel’s capital, that there should be no return to the pre-1967 borders, that there should not be a Palestinian state and that there should be no negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization.
But Begin’s position, as made clear in the 1977 election campaign that brought Likud to office, is that there should be no foreign sovereignty between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, Rabin said, He said the Labor Party, however, was willing to give up the parts of the West Bank that were heavily populated by Arabs in return for real peace.
Rabin said that in addition, he personally does not want to be in control of 1.6 million Arabs who don’t want to be part of Israel. He said he wants a Jewish State and that means a population 75-80 percent Jewish. Rabin added that if there were six to eight million Jews in Israel today instead of three-and-a-half million, his position might be different “I don’t see that many olim have come from the affluent societies where most of the Jewish population lives outside of Israel and the Soviet Union, “he said.
Asked about the Israeli Supreme Court decision ordering the removal of the Jewish settlement of Elon Moreh from private land expropriated from Arabs, Rabin said “it was the right decision “and” I believe it expresses the sentiments of most of the Israelis.” Rabin said he was concerned about the Gush Emunim, not because of its views which its members have a right to express, but because the Gush was trying to enforce its views by violating the law.