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Eban, Callaghan Discuss Mideast

November 8, 1977
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Former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban met with Prime Minister James Callaghan today for a brief, private and informal talk about the Middle East. Eban was expected to express his own confidence in the foreign policy being conducted by the Likud government under Premier Menachem Begin and Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan.

Eban’s meeting with Callaghan follows his discussions with members of the Carter Administration in the United States. Yesterday, Eban confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency a New York Times report that Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter’s National Security Advisor, had recently discussed with him Brzezinski’s plan for a Benelux-type economic community embracing Israel, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt and a semiautonomous Palestinian West Bank region.

(According to Times columnist C.L. Sulzberger, Brzezinski outlined his “complex blueprint” to both Eban and Yigael Yadin, leader of the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) who is now Israel’s Deputy Premier, and believes that if it is accepted “immediate tensions could be alleviated.” Sulzberger reported that “should this crucial change occur–and as a consequence, once the Middle East started to retreat from existing tensions–Mr. Brzezinski seems persuaded that a fairly rapid psychological and political improvement in the situation might be anticipate.

(“His hope is to shift the former Palestinian battleground for which Arabs and Jews have contended in four wars into what he envisions as “a Switzerland of the Middle East” meaning a region of more than one people, more than one religion, more than one language, living in a kind of loose confederation. The West Bank would be politically associated with Jordan and economically associated with Israel.”)


Eban also told the JTA that in Washington the Likud government is regarded as more flexible than its predecessor. Talking about his present standing in relation to the Begin government, Eban said that he had been asked to help during the post-election “emergency” by going to the United States to explain the government’s stand. However, he said there was no possibility of him quitting the Labor Party as Dayan had done. Nor did he favor Labor joining a government of national unity with Likud.


Talking about his forthcoming memoirs, he said it would vindicate the role of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in securing the emergency arms airlift to Israel during the Yom Kippur War. Former President Nixon has claimed that Kissinger wanted to delay the arms lift. But Kissinger will emerge as a proponent of it in Eban’s book.

Eban told the JTA that he will also present new material about the guarantees which the United States gave Israel in exchange for its withdrawal from Sinai after the Sinai campaign in 1956. This will shed further light on the diplomatic background to the Six-Day War, Eban said.

In the chapters dealing with the post-Six-Day War period, Eban will claim that an opportunity for an interim settlement with Egypt was missed in 1971 during President Anwar Sadat’s first year in office. Dayan, then Defense Minister, was in favor of a partial settlement. It was opposed by Premier Golda Meir and the Israeli General Staff. However, in Eban’s view, it might have been achieved if Dayan had been more tenacious in pursuit of it. In Britain, Eban’s book is to be published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson and extracts will be serialized in the Sunday Times.

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