New York (Mar. 24)
Israel will have to display a “spirit of concern, not melancholy” to fend off “international intimidation” stemming from “Arab ability of extortion of the industrialized nations of the world,” Abba Eban, former Foreign Minister of Israel, said here yesterday.
Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Eban, who is presently a Labor Party member of Knesset, referred to current West European economic policies and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s agreement to let her ministers meet with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat or with any other PLO representatives.
Eban said, “The international community is intimidated by Arab power,” in reference to oil supplies, and declared that Thatcher’s meetings are “an attempt to undermine” United States Middle East peace initiatives. Eban cited the lack of participation on the part of the Europeans during the Camp David process.
Eban said the Reagan Administration is seeking to “discourage” a PLO-British meeting. He said “No Israeli government would support any initiative” resulting from a British-PLO meeting.
POSSIBLE ROLE FOR SAUDIS IN PEACE PROCESS
He reiterated criticism of the proposed sale to Saudi Arabia of U.S. sophisticated equipment for the F-15 jets now awaiting delivery, including AWACS with capabilities to “peer” into Israeli land bases. He said it is clear that U.S. foreign policy does not consist exclusively of a military program in Saudi Arabia. Eban, however, observed that the U.S. may be able to encourage a Saudi peace dialogue and hoped there “might be elements in Saudi Arabia who can see that the real danger is not from Israel but from the Soviets.” He did not identify the Saudi “elements.”
Eban said the Saudis may be the “ill or the key for the next stage of a Camp David process.” He said with the peace talks stalled, the Reagan Administration took the correct decision “by not putting the Arab-Israeli dialogue at the head of American concerns.”
Eban said President Anwar Sadat of Egypt will surely head his government in the later part of 1981, whereas uncertainty still surrounds Israel with elections scheduled in June. Either way, he said the “durability of the final accord responds to Egypt’s needs as well as ours.”