Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Eban Proposes One Step at a Time Disengagement with Israel’s Neighbors

March 18, 1974
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban outlined the broad basis for a one step at time disengagement procedure with Israel’s neighbors and praised American efforts to bring about the end to the recent fighting during his meetings here and in New York with the press and Jewish leaders. The Foreign Minister arrived here last Thursday to begin a tour for the Israel Bond Organization and to meet Administration officials.

Discussing the disengagement procedures, Eban told a news conference here Friday that Israel wants to take preliminary steps toward a Mideast peace settlement in an orderly sequence, The first step, he noted, was to achieve disengagement in the Suez front, the present step is to achieve disengagement with Syria and subsequently with Jordan. He emphasized that the relations between Israel and Jordan differ from those with Egypt and Syria in that no armies “are in perilous confrontation” on the Jordan line.

Asked about King Hussein’s statement here Friday that peace could come only through “evacuation.” and that Israel could have Arab peace or land but not both, Eban commented that the key word was compromise and that no party could get all it wanted. He added that Israel’s withdrawal must be to safe and secure borders.

Appearing on NBC-TV, Eban said that Syria’s demand that Israel withdraw from all of the Golan Heights as a condition for peace was “Incompatible with peace” because such a withdrawal would allow Arab forces to control high ground from which to pour artillery fire on Israelis in the valley below. He said it was an “Inherently peace-less situation to have someone else on the hills and ourselves in the valley. Therefore, every dictate of security and stability does demand a territorial agreement with Israelis on the heights and not only in the valley.”

Diplomatic sources said that the various efforts toward disengagement were viewed by Israel as preliminaries and not elements of a peace settlement but that they were critical because they could defuse the military situation and set the stage for peace negotiations.

The same sources said that the indirect Israeli-Syrian talks on disengagement were expected to be underway by the end of this month but they added that sending envoys to Washington did not mean Israeli-Syrian disengagement was a certainty. Prospects for such disengagement should become clear during the talks, which are expected to continue through April, but, the sources said, if the talks did not produce the expected results, an attempt at separation of forces might be made another way.

It was learned that Eban and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger discussed the Soviet position and possible intentions in the Middle East in the wake of United States diplomatic successes on disengagement moves. There was speculation that one reason for Eban’s current visit was to present Israel’s views on Soviet current intentions in the Middle East before Kissinger left for Moscow March 25.

In New York today. Eban met with a group of Jewish leaders representing the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and praised American efforts for helping to bring about the end of the recent fighting and for aiding in the prisoner of war exchange with Egypt. Eban also praised U.S. efforts in helping to get disengagement talks started with Syria. Rabbi Israel Miller, Conference chairman, presided at the meeting. Eban will meet with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday, at the invitation of acting committee chairman Sen. John J. Sparkman (D.Ala.).

Recommended from JTA