Golda Meir Speaks at U. N.; Urges Arabs to Agree to Full Disarmament
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Golda Meir Speaks at U. N.; Urges Arabs to Agree to Full Disarmament

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A call upon the United Nations to consider a temporary “freeze” of all “explosive international issues which might erupt into war” was issued here before a plenary session of the UN General Assembly today by Mrs. Golda Meir, Israel’s Foreign Minister.

Addressing the 109-member body in her first major address of this year’s session, and asserting that disarmament is the “keynote” of the Assembly’s current general debate, the Israeli foreign policy chief told the delegates that such a “freeze” would enable the world to direct all its efforts “toward achieving that most vital and most cherished goal of disarmament.”

Meanwhile, however, she told the Assembly firmly, “as long as Arab belligerency continues, Israel will take all necessary measures to be capable of protecting itself.”

“My Government,” she told the Assembly, “rejects war as a means of settling disputes. From the day that the State of Israel was established, my Government has called for settling all outstanding differences by direct negotiations. We do not rest content with calling upon the Great Powers to find a way to disarmament and to settle outstanding problems by negotiation and conciliation.

“We are prepared to put this into practice in the dispute in which we are involved with our neighbors,” Mrs. Meir stressed. “As we have done in the past, we call upon the Arab states to agree to complete disarmament with mutual inspection, covering all types of weapons, and to accept the method of direct negotiations as the only means for solving all differences between them and Israel.”


As far as Arab-Israel disputes are concerned, she emphasized, the Assembly must see the “basic problem” as “the denial by the Arab states of Israel’s right to exist.” If this attitude were to change, she affirmed, “and if the Arab states and Israel were to discuss their differences at the conference table, in a frank and open manner, I am positive that solutions could be found on all the specific issues.”

“Year after year,” she recalled, “Israel has come to this rostrum with Obe demanding peace between it and its Arab neighbors. The policy of the Israel Government has been and continues to be peace. It is peace not only for the world, but also between us and our neighbors. We believe in coexistence and cooperation everywhere, and we shall do everything in our power to achieve that end.”

But Israel will, in the absence of peace, take the necessary steps to protect itself, she asserted. Referring indirectly to the recently announced decision by the United States to permit the sale of defensive, ground-to-air missiles to Israel, she rejected the Arab objections to that U. S. -Israeli arrangement. “Thus,” she pointed out, “it is ironical that, when Egypt amasses a fleet of heavy bombers, and when President Nasser proclaims that his rockets will be able to ‘hit any place south of Beirut’–that is, Israel, an Egyptian spokesman should complain loudly from this rostrum when Israel is acquiring missiles which can be used solely for protection against attacks from the air.”


Touching upon the Arab refugee problem, which is the most explosive Arab-Israeli issue on the agenda of this year’s Assembly, Mrs. Meir stated: “The Arab denial of Israel’s right to existence has a direct bearing on the distressing refugee problem. We are willing, and always have been willing, to discuss with the Arab governments what can best be done to secure the future of the refugees in the light of the political and economic realities in the region. But a natural solution to the problem is frustrated by the Arab dream of destroying Israel and openly proclaimed Arab intention of using the refugees for this purpose. This design has been openly propagated even from the rostrum of this Assembly.”

Emphasizing the “love and devotion” with which Israel has received the thousands of Jewish refugees who were forced to leave other countries, Mrs. Meir said: “Had the Arab nations put their minds and energies into developing their lands, the refugees who dwell their midst could have been drawn into productive life and become a real asset for the development of their countries. This is what happened in Israel with the more than a million refugees, of whom over 600,000 came from Arab lands.

“We are happy to note that, despite frustrations and set-backs, there is a growing consciousness in some of the Arab countries, that the direction of their energies and talents towards constructive endeavour is more vital to the welfare of their peoples than to perpetuate sterile rancor. These tendencies should be encouraged by the international community.

“Despite all the speeches which we have heard from Arab representatives we are convinced that for us and for our neighbors the day must come when we shall live in amity and cooperation. Then will the entire Middle East become a region where the tens of millions of people will dwell in peace, and only then will its economic potentialities and rich cultural heritage achieve fulfillment. This Israel believes, and towards this end we shall devote all our efforts.”

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