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Israel Suspends its Participation in the Jarring Talks, Interview With Prime Minister Meir

(September 21, 1970)

On 19 August 1970, the United States Government confirmed that there had been a forward deployment of missiles into and within the standstill zone west of the Suez Canal at the time when the cease-fire went into effect. On 3 September 1970, the United States Government announced that there had been further violations of the cease-fire. Meanwhile, Israel's representative, who had met Ambassador Jarring to discuss the resumption of his mission, was recalled and, on 6 September, Israel announced that it was suspending its participation in, the Jarring talks because of the cease-fire violations. On 21 September, the Prime Minister was interviewed on Israel Television on the state of the Jarring mission:

Q. What is the significance of the decision taken by the Government today?

A. On 4 August, the Government decided to take part in talks connected with the American peace initiative under the auspices of Jarring. One of the most important parts of this (American) proposal was the proposal for a cease-fire. And one of the most important parts in deciding on the cease-fire was the provision that said that, during the cease-fire period, as long as the cease-fire went on, there should be a freeze or standstill in everything done on both sides of the line. Seeing that our negotiating was done not with the Egyptians and not with the Russians but with the Americans alone, not only did the Americans agree to this, but they informed us that both the Egyptians and the Russians accepted these conditions. On that understanding we agreed to join the talks under the auspices of Jarring.

To our surprise, we saw that, in a matter of hours after the cease-fire went into effect, the Egyptians began to move up missiles towards the Canal, and in fact that has not yet stopped. That means that the Egyptians are exploiting the cease-fire period to strengthen their position and to make things harder for us, so that if and when the shooting starts again our position will be worse from this point of view than it was before the cease-fire.

Obviously, we cannot be asked to go on observing our part in this agreement, while the other side violates the agreement day and night. We turned to the US Government, and, when we reached the point where there were no longer any differences of opinion between us and the US Government on the facts of the matter, it was time for it to act. To the best of our knowledge, it is indeed acting. I hope that it will succeed.

And in the meantime we could not see ourselves sitting down to talk with Jarring. The Israel Government has not changed its decision of 4 August to agree to take part in talks under the American peace initiative. The decision is there. But seeing that Egypt has violated the cease-fire agreement, the Israel Government has decided that, as long as the situation does not revert to what it was before, we shall not be able to take part in these talks. As is known, the Israel Government decided that our Foreign Minister should represent us at these talks, and his substitute will be Ambassador Tekoah, Head of our Permanent Mission to the United Nations. The UN Assembly is getting near, and he will have to carry out his duties as Head of Mission. He will go back to his work there. At the same time we have instructed him to inform Dr. Jarring.

Q. Is there any reason to believe that we shall be able to bring about the return of the state of things on the Canal to what it was before by these political means?

A. It is one of two things. If the Soviet Union and Egypt went into these talks on the American initiative with genuine goodwill, they ought to fulfil it. If they do not fulfil it and are not ready to correct the present position, what is the good of all the talk and even of any agreements they may sign, if they sign any at all? I should like to believe that the US Government really wants to restore the position as it was before, and is making efforts to that end. But it is important to us that the US Government and the other factors involved as well should know this exactly, without any misunderstanding, and that they should act in the light of this knowledge and of the decision of ours that we have told them about.

Q. Was the Government's decision taken after consultation with the US?

A. No, the decision was not taken after consultation. We do not consult the US on what decisions to take. But the decision was taken after there had been very close contacts with the US for several days, in fact since we discovered that there had been a violation of the cease-fire, and I am sure that the decision will not come as a surprise to the US.

Q. Is it not to be feared that the US will consider this decision as a blow to their peace initiative?

A. I do not know how they will take it, but I do not agree that the decision is a blow to the initiative. If there is a blow to the initiative - it is the acts of the Egyptians and the Soviets.

Q. Is there no fear that pressure will be exercised to make us change this decision?

A. For my part, I know of practically no period since the State was established when there were not pressures about something or other. Politics in great measure are made up of pressures by somebody, and the one that's being pressured has to have the strength to stand up to the pressures.

Q. Have we got that strength?

A. Up to now, God be thanked, we have all along stood up to pressure. I have no doubt that now, the Government will be able to stand up to it.

Q. If the missiles are not drawn back soon, does that mean that Ambassador Tekoah and Foreign Minister Eban will not meet Dr. Jarring?

A. If the missiles are taken out, of course they will meet. If not, I do not know what there is to meet about.

Q. During your visit to the US next week, will you clear up these questions with the Administration and with President Nixon?

A. All I can say now is that exactly a fortnight from today I shall have the opportunaty, which makes me very happy, to meet several thousands of Jews in New York who will be coming there from all over the States, representing hundreds and hundreds of communities, anxious to hear at first hand what is happening in Israel, what the problems are, and I shall do my best to explain it all to them.

Q. And what about meeting President Nixon and other personalities of the Administration?

A. Right now I cannot add anything to what I have said.


Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs