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Mrs. Meir: Israel Prepared to Return Immediately to Jarring Talks; Satisfied

December 6, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Premier Golda Meir of Israel told a nationwide television audience today that her government is “prepared to go back within one hour” to United Nations mediator Gunnar V. Jarring’s Middle East peace mission, but “without pre-conditions” from either Israel or its Arab neighbors.” Mrs. Meir appeared on the NBC program “Meet The Press” where she was subjected to extraordinarily sharp questioning by a panel of four newsmen. “We don’t commit ourselves to anything without negotiations,” she declared. “We put no conditions to the Egyptians and never have put one,” Mrs. Meir said.

Asked by syndicated columnist Rowland Evans whether resumption of American deliveries of Phantom jets to Israel would not mean that the US was underwriting Israel’s occupation of the Sinai, Mrs. Meir replied sharply, “Maybe you should ask your President.” She observed that President Nixon has said “over and over again” that the military balance in the Middle East should not be upset.


It was learned meanwhile that the US State Department’s representative in Cairo, Donald Bergus, has warned policy-makers in Washington to take seriously President Anwar Sadat’s recent declarations that only military action can now solve the Middle East deadlock. According to syndicated columnist Jack Anderson writing in the Sunday edition of The Washington Post, Bergus warned in a secret message that “the Egyptians will take at least limited military action against Israel.”

Asked on “Meet The Press” if she thought shooting might be resumed after the first of next year in view of Sadat’s statement that 1971 is the “year of decision,” Mrs. Meir said she saw Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mahmoud Riad on a television interview this morning and he did not seem prepared to “say what Sadat said.”

Mrs. Meir’s appearance on “Meet The Press” was her fourth meeting with American newsmen since she arrived in Washington last Wednesday. Her questioners–Evans, Richard Valeriani, NBC diplomatic correspondent, Henry Trewhitt of Newsweek magazine and Terrance Smith of the New York Times–were unsparing in their interrogation of the 73-year-old Premier. She read to them her government’s response to Jarring’s Feb. 8, 1971 memo asking Israel for a withdrawal commitment, in which she told the UN mediator that Israel was anxious for his mission to continue without preconditions and stated that Israel never said that the cease-fire lines were to be considered final borders.

Asked whether Egypt has ever attacked Israel, Mrs. Meir replied, “Yes. In 1967, in 1969 during the war of attrition and during the cease-fire.” Asked if there were any practical differences between her government and the Nixon administration, she said Israel did not accept the point of view that there were practical or philosophical differences. She did not answer directly when asked what she accomplished on her current visit to Washington. She said Israel wanted to negotiate a peace settlement and to “have a chance, politically and militarily.”


Mrs. Meir said “Our friends should not take a public position on what an agreement should be.” At one point she said, “Our neighbors often become slaves of their own words. Sadat knows as well as we do that he cannot win (a new war) and we are not anxious to win again. We hope he will come to the negotiating table with no preconditions.” She said that Israel had no objections if Egypt came to the negotiating table with its own suggestions but that Israel would not be bound to accept them in advance.

Mrs. Meir met privately for 50 minutes with Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey (D., Minn.) at her hotel last night and also with Sen. Edmund Muskie (D., Me.) both aspirants for the 1972 Democratic Presidential nomination. Humphrey urged afterwards that the US continue to render Israel strong economic and military support. Both Humphrey and Muskie supported the Jackson Amendment to the Foreign Military Procurement Bill providing $500 million in new military credits for Israel and were among the 78 Senators who signed a resolution last month urging the immediate resumption of Phantom deliveries to Israel. Mrs. Meir met for a half hour Friday with Son. Henry M. Jackson (D., Wash.), another Presidential hopeful and one of the strongest supporters of Israel in Congress.

She told a press conference here Friday that she was satisfied over assurances from President Nixon and Secretary of State William P. Rogers with whom she conferred Thursday that the US was determined to assure Israel’s security. She indicated that the issue of Phantom deliveries in the immediate future was not resolved. Asked whether she had received assurances that the Phantoms could be purchased as a result of her talks, she said, “We want aircraft. We don’t want publicity. We are never happy about the necessity of bringing up the problem like this in the open.”

She also declared that the question of additional Phantom sales to Israel did not obstruct a final Middle East settlement or an interim agreement to reopen the Suez Canal. She added. “Our neighbors are much more apt to refrain from war and accept peace negotiations if Israel is strong, not weak.” Asked if the question of Soviet Jews was raised during her talks Thursday, Mrs. Meir replied. “We are well aware and very much appreciative of President Nixon’s interest and sensitivity to the problem and convinced that whatever he can do he will do.”

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