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Eban Stresses That Dialogue is Only Solution to the Middle East Conflict

May 17, 1973
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Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban reiterated last night that the only way to solve the Middle East conflict is through a dialogue between the Arabs and Israel, and expressed the hope that the spirit of dialogue, which has succeeded in terminating conflicts in other areas of the world or has developed new relationships between countries, will also prevail in the Middle East.

Eban was the guest speaker at a dinner in the Essex House marking the centennial of the Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and the 25th anniversary of Israel. The 300 persons attending the event purchased more than $500,000 of Israel Bonds. Harry W. Baumgarten, president of the congregation, announced this figure and saluted both his congregation and Israel for their achievements throughout the histories of the Jewish State and the congregation.

The Israel diplomat, who focussed on the pos- itive contributions dialogue could make in settling the Mideast crisis noted that the growing understanding and harmony between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and between West Germany and East Germany were lessons that were valid in the Mideast. “Triumph comes as a result of direct contacts,” not by imposed settlements. He noted, however, that while “progress has been slow” it has “been perceptible. The Arab world has begun to awake to the hopelessness of the military dream.”

Referring to the role of the UN in the Middle East, Eban said: “The UN has become not an arena for solving conflicts but an arena for waging them.” Israel, continued Eban, is aware that she will have to compromise. “Nobody can be a one hundred percent winner. Negotiation means compromise. Our task is not to destroy any option for peace but to build new and more durable structures.”

Eban, detailing achievements of Israel since 1948, declared that they have “overshadowed anything that could have been predicted. Israel is the most powerful small state in human history.” What decides Israel’s fortunes, he said, is not what Washington, London or the UN say but “what Jerusalem does and what Jerusalem wants.” At the same time, Eban claimed, there is no possibility of isolating Israel from the world community. “Israel is in the Times Square of history. To be or not to be is not the question – how to be or not to be is the question,” he said.

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