The Government of the United States has recently brought to our attention a plan for a political initiative, the aim of which was defined publicly by the US Secretary of State, Mr. Rogers, as intended "to encourage the parties to progress towards a just and lasting Peace." The plan, as transmitted to us, has of course been submitted for consideration by the Government, and we are in continuous dialogue with the US Government on this important subject, which is so vitally important for our national and political existence.
In view of the fact that the US Government did not publicize the main points and details of its plan, I do not propose at this stage to discuss the subject in the Knesset plenum, since it is not for us to publish a plan which has been presented to us as not for publication.
The details of the American initiative have also been submitted for information and discussion to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, which is charged and authorized, inter alia, to discuss matters which are not appropriate for consideration in plenary session, especially at a stage where there are political or security reasons for refraining from public discussion in the plenary.
Members of the Knesset,
It is only natural and understandable that the Knesset should expect to receive an authoritative report on the American initiative. Not only would an authoritative report provide accurate information on a subject on which there have been various statements and interpretations not always distinguished by accuracy, but authoritative inform
ation is also a major condition for a serious and useful debate. At the same time, I am sure that the Knesset will understand the reasons that prevent the Government, as yet, doing it the service of providing authoritative information. The Knesset may rest assured that the Government of Israel will meticulously comply with the procedures and obligations of Israeli democracy and the matter will be submitted for debate in plenary session at a suitable time when conditions exist which make such a debate possible and necessary.
At this time I feel it appropriate to make a few remarks on political matters.
Israel's policy is founded on a constant striving for peace with each and every one of the neighbouring Arab States. Hence we follow and study closely every manifestation of readiness for peace by the factors directly involved in this terrible dispute. In accordance with the logic of this principle, we welcome any sincere political aid by political factors which try to influence the countries of the area to turn their faces toward peace, to stop shooting and start talking.
In the plain sense of the term and in the guise of agreement to a temporary and conditional cease-fire.
There is an essential difference,. from the military, political, moral and juridical points of view, between the cease-fire as decided upon by the Security Council and the limited and conditional cease-fire which Nasser proposes and calls a "cease-fire".
While the general and unlimited cease-fire is meant to serve as a stage of transition from war to peace, the trick of proposing a conditional and limited cease-fire is meant to achieve the transitional period which he requires to prepare for the renewal of the war in a more intense form. From the military point of view, Nasser needs such an interval in order to strengthen his fortifications all along the line, to rehabilitate his bases and installations which have been damaged by the Israel Air Force and, above all, to facilitate the installation of Soviet missiles for the purpose of achieving an air umbrella, trying to prevent our Air Force silencing the Egyptian artillery aimed at our positions, and enabling him to make an attempt to cross the Canal.
If Nasser's proposal for a cease-fire for a specified period is accepted, the renewal of the shooting at the end of the period will be legitimized in his eyes. The aggressor will be able to argue that he is exempted from his obligations and is entitled to renew the war.
Nasser's consistent objection to a cease-fire in the plain sense of the term shows that he is still guided by the decisions of the Khartoum conference, which have nothing whatever in common with peace.
If there was any doubt in anyone's mind concerning Nasser's real intentions, we have his latest speech in Benghazi on the 25th of this month, in which he declared his intentions with commendable frankness.
In order to prevent any peace agreement between Israel and any Arab State whatsoever, Nasser is fanning the flames of hostility and taking pains to give the conflict a pan-Arab character. Nasser told his listeners: "Your people in Egypt will under no circumstances agree to any bargaining about withdrawal. Syria comes before Egypt. The Golan comes before Sinai. We have declared this and we declare it once again had we wished for a withdrawal from Sinai, it was not the main operation, but Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Golan come before Sinai." How can this statement possibly be interpreted as a sign of readiness for a peace settlement?