JERUSALEM (Feb. 12)
Following is the full text of the Cabinet statement read to reporters by Premier Menachem Begin:
“The government of Israel expresses its regret and protest over the statement made by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance at a press conference Feb. 10. The Secretary declared: With respect to the Sinai settlements we have said that we believe that all of these settlements are contrary to international law and that therefore they should not exist.
The Cabinet registers the fact that the latter part of this statement is in complete contradiction to remarks made by the President of the United States to the Prime Minister on Dec. 16 and 17, following the Prime Minister’s presentation to the President of the Israelis’ peace plan.
In presenting this plan to the President, the Prime Minister included a specific reference to the continuous existence of the settlements within a United Nations zone and an Israeli defense contingent for their protection. During the course of the exchange in the White House not only was no reservation whatsoever made with regard to this reference, but the plan as a whole was received with a positive reaction.
ISRAEL STANDS BY ITS VIEW
The government of Israel stands by its view that the Israeli settlement program is in full harmony with international law and that it has always been legal, legitimate and essential. The United States holds a different viewpoint. However, no communication was transmitted to us, even during the seven weeks after having forwarded, on Dec. 27, the full text of the peace plan in writing to the government of the United States, that the settlements should not exist.
Immediately after having made this part of his statement the Secretary added that: This however is a problem that has to be resolved by the parties. They are going to have to negotiate it themselves.
OBVIOUS CONTRADICTION IN TERMS
We face here an obvious contradiction-in-terms between taking sides by a mediator and his advice to conduct negotiations. With regard to the areas of Eretz Israel, Judaea and Samaria, the Secretary of State announced that there should be a homeland for the Palestinians and that it should be linked to Jordan.
Whatever the theoretical assumptions and interpretations, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this plan would lead, in reality and unavoidably, to the establishment of a Palestinian state ruled by the terrorist organizations as the front-line spearhead of a potential military alignment of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
Already today this alignment has at its disposal nearly 6000 tanks, over 1100 fighter aircraft, and more than 4200 heavy guns. Israel, under such conditions, would find itself nine miles from the sea and a situation would thus be created of mortal danger to its very existence. No political goal whatever it be, can move Israel to place almost all its civilian population within the range of an enemy’s fire and endanger the very existence of a Jewish State.
We wish to point out that it was only after the Israel peace plan, in both its parts, obtained the moral support of the United States that the government decided to send its delegation, composed of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Defense Minister to Ismailia in order to bring the plan to the knowledge of the government of Egypt.
The Cabinet expresses its hope that the government of the United States will reconsider its position in the light of the positive talks held between the President and the Prime Minister in Dec., 1977, in connection with the Israeli peace plan.”
(Begin refused to answer questions about the statement and Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor also refrained from elaborating on it at his evening briefing.)