Dayan Calls for Stepped-up Offensive As Labor Party Accepts Territorial Demands
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Dayan Calls for Stepped-up Offensive As Labor Party Accepts Territorial Demands

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Defense Minister Moshe Dayan said today that Israel must take offensive measures against Egypt in the Suez Canal zone, but within carefully circumscribed limits. Gen. Dayan addressed the convention of the Israel Labor Party on security problems.

He said that Israel is fighting what amounts to a “small war” on the banks of the Suez Canal in order to avert a big war which would follow an Egyptian attempt to cross the canal in force under cover of its air force and artillery. He said it was necessary for Israel to make selective use of its air and ground forces with air raids against Egyptian military targets and commando thrusts deep into Egypt.

It is not enough to fight a defensive action “sitting in a bunker, keeping your head down.” Gen. Dayan said, but he added, “every measure must be taken to avoid contact with the Russians” who are advising and directing Egypt’s armed forces. He said Israel’s offensive actions must also be limited by consideration of the United States’ desire to avoid a confrontation in the Middle East and by the demands on manpower and material on Israel’s other fronts.

Gen. Dayan said that Israel introduced its air force into the Suez fighting in order to reduce casualties as much as possible. He observed that in the June, 1967 Six-Day War Israel suffered 3,300 casualties including 778 dead. In more than two years since then Israel’s casualties on all fronts have amounted to 2,100 including 400 dead.

He referred to the fighting along the 103-mile waterway as a battle that would decide if there is to be a battle of the Suez Canal. If Israel succeeds in this battle, it will have forestalled an Egyptian attempt to regain the Sinai peninsula, he said.


Earlier the Labor Party apparently accepted Gen. Dayan’s ‘strategic boundaries” concept as an unwritten plank in the party’s election platform. The platform’s official wording refers to “secured and agreed” boundaries as Israel’s goal. The Dayan plan, which was broadcast on Kol Israel radio but not announced to the press when the party formally opened its convention in Jerusalem yesterday, is more specific. It called for Israel’s retention of the Golan Heights, the Gaza Strip and a contiguous section of the Sinai peninsula that would give Israel permanent control of the Sharm el-Sheikh strong point commanding the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba.

The section of the plank dealing with the future of the West Bank referred to the Jordan River as Israel’s eastern security frontier, “not to be crossed by foreign armies.” The implication was that the heavily populated areas of the West Bank might be returned to Jordan under an agreement that it remain a demilitarized zone.

In his speech to the convention today, Gen. Dayan reiterated his belief that it was more important to establish “facts of life” in the occupied territories, such as more settlements and a measure of coexistence with the Arabs than it was to make statements or declarations concerning the future of those territories.


Gen. Dayan’s strategic boundaries proposal reflected his own views and were also said to incorporate the views of other cabinet members, notably Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili who heads the government’s information service. Mr. Eban, who spoke to the convention on the political situation, said the party’s platform plank on boundaries advanced the idea that Israel can remain in the occupied territories without undermining the prospects of peace. But he saw those prospects as remote at present and said that as long as there is no peace with the Arabs the cease-fire lines will remain Israel’s borders. Mr. Eban said that all members of the coalition government were in agreement on that point and also agreed that Israel would accept nothing less than a genuine peace.

Addressing an audience of 3,000 at the opening session of the convention last night, Premier Golda Meir appealed for party unity. She addressed herself specifically to disaffected members of the Rafi faction within the party who are supporters of Gen. Dayan. Mrs. Meir insisted that “what divides us is less important than what unites us.” She warned that peace is still far off and unity was imperative on both a national and party level.

Party unity was shaken again yesterday when Gen. Dayan was angered by the party’s failure to announce its adoption of his plank on boundaries. It was only after lengthy telephone conversations with Premier Meir, party secretary general Pinchas Sapir and Knesset member Reuben Barkat, chairman of that platform committee, that the plank was released to Kol Israel for broadcast. Gen. Dayan agreed however that the plank should remain unwritten though party speakers would refer to it during the election campaign. The Labor Party is obliged to stand by the plank which would become government policy in the event of a Labor victory in the October elections which appears likely at this point.

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