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Koch: West Bank Settlements Needed for Israel’s Security

January 2, 1981
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Mayor Edward Koch of New York said here today he was ending his nine-day visit to Israel, which followed a week in Egypt, with amended views about Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

“I came here with mixed emotions on the issue. I welcomed the chance to see the situation myself… The Chinese have a saying: One picture is worth a thousand words. I say that seeing for yourself is worth a thousand pictures, ” he told a press conference before preparing to return home.

“I am now convinced that the present thrust of Israel’s policy is right, that a careful strategy of settlements on the West Bank is necessary For Israel’s future security, ” he said.

Koch said he agreed that it would be impossible for Israel to hand back high areas on the West Bank from which Arabs have in the past, and might again in the future if war were to break out, commanded regions in which 60 percent of Israel’s population lives.

The New York mayor said he thought the world had not been made sufficiently aware of the price Israel was ready to pay for peace. “One of the problems is that Egyptian President Anwar Sadat is a very personable and articulate person who makes a great impression. But Premier Menachem Begin is a righteous prophet in the Biblical sense, and historically nobody has ever liked a prophet–look at Jeremiah, ” Koch said. “Begin knows he is right but does not put it across so well, ” he said.

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