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Special Interview the Basis for Changing Attitudes

December 13, 1978
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General Mordechai Gur, former Chief of Staff of the Israelis army, said he believes that most of the Israelis will change their attitudes toward the West Bank and the Golan Heights if Israel’s neighbors will recognize the Jewish State and agree to sign a peace treaty with her.

In a special interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Gur said it could be assumed that the same process that the Israelis went through when President Anwar Sadat of Egypt started his peace bid will take place on other fronts. “The desire of the Israelis for peace is so great that they will be willing to take many risks,” he said.

But he stressed that since the West Bank and the Golan Heights are “closer to the center of Israel, there will be greater caution as far as new borders are concerned.” When asked if he envisioned a situation when Israel would withdraw completely from the Golan Heights in return for peace, he replied: “The Golan Heights is big enough to find new lines there….”

Gur was in New York for the publication in paperback of his new book (translated from Hebrew) “The Battle for Jerusalem” (Popular Library, New York, 380 pages, $2.50), which depicts the liberation of Jerusalem in 1967 by Israeli troops lead by Gur.


As to the prospects of peace between Egypt and Israel, Gur said: “I believe that an agreement between Egypt and us (Israel) is possible if the Egyptians will be daring enough politically the same way as we are daring militarily. We are giving up the Sinai, and this is a great military risk. Sadat should take the risk of signing first a peace treaty with Israel, with the hope that other Arab countries will follow him.”

Asked about reports that described him as an “outspoken opponent” of the Camp David accords, Gur said: “It is not correct to say that I oppose the Camp David accords. The stalemate in the peace talks in the last two weeks just justified my position. I thought that the (Camp David) agreements were committing both Israel and Egypt to a larger extent than many people could see. The main difficulty I saw was in Egypt’s commitment to the other Arab countries and the PLO.

“On the other hand, I was afraid that the agreements committed Israel to concessions that will be very difficult for Israel to carry out before the Palestinians and their supporters in the extreme Arab states recognized Israel the way Egypt did. It seems that today I am no longer alone in this position and those questions are even bothering the (Israeli) government.”

Asked to assess the strength of Zahal (Israel Defense Forces), Gur replied: “As a Chief of Staff I considered it a tremendous achievement that the government can conduct a free foreign policy which includes risks and concessions based on the military might we have built. I have no doubt that one of the reasons for Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem was his knowledge that Zahal had strengthened itself very much and that it is preferable to solve problems through peace rather than war.”

Gur, who officially retires from the Israeli army Jan. I, said he will join koor, the Histadrut’s giant industrial complex.

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