Premier Yitzhak Rabin of Israel indicated here last night that after two days of meetings in Washington with President Ford and Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger he was still in the dark as to what U.S. policy will be in the Middle East. Addressing 2300 Jewish leaders from the United States and Canada at a dinner given in his honor by the Israel Bond Organization at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Rabin said that he had explained Israel’s position “very thoroughly” to President Ford but did not know if “all was accepted.”
He said, “I am sure there was understanding to what I told Ford” but that he does not know now what the U.S. government’s decision on the Middle East will be, “I explained to Ford that conditions not accepted by Israel in March will not be accepted today,” Rabin said, referring to Kissinger’s “shuttle” diplomacy which broke down last March. He rejected the contention that Israel is intransigent, emphasizing that “We do all for progress” but that Israel has the right to decide what is right and wrong when it comes to its future and security. He said Israel is ready to make concessions to the Arabs but cannot make any that would endanger its security.
Describing his country’s relations with the U.S. as “friendship deeply rooted in values and beliefs,” Rabin said that Israel had demonstrated flexibility but was not prepared to accept Egyptian dictates, “We said no, even when the U.S. was ready to accept Egyptian dictation,” Rabin declared.
SEES IMPROVED SITUATION
He said that Israel was committed to do whatever was possible to achieve an interim agreement with Egypt but observed that if that is not achieved, there will be a need to move toward the negotiation of an overall settlement. He did not mention the Geneva conference. He emphasized however that if Egypt will be “forthcoming” Israel will be the same.
He described the present situation in the Middle East as better than it was three months ago. He said the threat of war had diminished, the Suez Canal is re-opened, the mandate of the United Nations peace-keeping forces has been extended and Israel’s recent unilateral thinning out of its forces in Sinai has contributed to further relaxation.
As to the future, he stressed that Israel is ready to negotiate for peace not for its right to exist. “Our existence as an independent Jewish State does not depend on their (Arab) recognition,” Rabin asserted. He said he doubted that peace would be achieved in the Middle East as long as the Arab leaders refuse to reconcile themselves to Israel’s existence as an independent Jewish State. At present, he said, the gap between the Arabs and Israel “is too wide to breach.”
ISRAEL OPPOSES STALEMATE
Before leaving Washington Friday, Premier Rabin told Jewish leaders from the United States and Canada that Israel is no less opposed than the United States to any stalemate in the diplomatic process toward peace in the Middle East. But he said he considered the movement toward peace to be still in the exploration stage and that a long diplomatic road with many pitfalls lies ahead before a settlement can be reached. Rabin made his remarks at a closed door meeting at Blair House with representatives of the 32 constituent organizations of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, headed by conference chairman Rabbi Israel Miller and with five delegates representing the Canadian Jewish Congress.
Rabin also met with some 500 representatives of the United Jewish Appeal and local federations and welfare funds in Washington Friday and told them that their “warmth and identification with Israel are one of the sources of Israel’s strength.” He met with them behind closed doors.
Rabin also stressed that while Israel continued its search for peace she must continue working for the immigration and absorption of Soviet Jews and for the freedom of “our persecuted brethren in Syria.” In New York yesterday, he met with Governor Hugh Carey and Mayor Abraham Beame.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.