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Statement to the Knesset by Prime Minister Meir, (March 16, 1971)

Further explanations and elucidation of Israel's policy was given in a statement by the Prime Minister to the Knesset on 16 March. She outlined the Government's concept of defensible, agreed and recognized boundaries. Her statement followed an interview which she had given to the London Times:

Israel wholeheartedly desires a lasting peace between itself and its neighbours. Peace is a vital need for our people and the peoples of the region, and we shall spare no effort to arrive at the conclusion of peace treaties with each of the Arab States bordering on Israel.

It is our conviction that the hoped-for peace can be achieved only through negotiations between ourselves and our neighbours, free negotiations, conducted without prior commitments and without dictates. We will reject any attempt, from any quarter whatsoever, to impose borders. The discussions on peace under the auspices of Ambassador Jarring must be conducted without prior commitments and, as the hopedfor progress towards the goal takes place, the stage of direct negotiations and the signing of a peace agreement will arrive.

A central subject in peace negotiations is that of borders. Israel desires, and is entitled to, defensible, agreed and recognized borders, and it will not give up this right. It will not return to the lines of 4 June 1967. Readiness to negotiate on the subject of borders, without prior conditions, is a decisive test of readiness to enter into a peace agreement with us. Unfortunately, Egypt is still attempting to impose a dictate instead of conducting negotiations for a peace agreement. Israel will accept no dictates from any party, nor do we, on our own part, present Egypt with any prior conditions. The Government's policy has been not to draw maps except in the course of negotiations over borders. This policy remains in force. When the time comes, the Government will decide on its position, and the matter will be submitted to the Knesset in accordance with the democratic procedures obtaining among us.

That moment, I regret to say, has not yet come. Here I must recall that the Government of Israel has never operated according to the "not one inch" policy. We have never said that the cease-fire lines have to be the peace boundaries. We have said that the boundaries have to be defensible and agreed upon in negotiations between the parties, and for this Israel will struggle without flinching. The great majority of the electorate rejected the "not one inch" doctrine.

Our rich experience over the long period from the War of Independence to the days of June 1967 has taught us the ineffectiveness and the danger inherent in reliance upon arrangements intended as substitutes for defensible boundaries UN observers and a UN force were placed on our borders, and all of us are aware of the outcome. It is our experience in defending ourselves that has brought us to recognize that no guarantees of any kind can be regarded as a substitute for defensible boundaries which we defend by ourselves.

Certain commentators have attributed to me a proposal concerning the stationing of an international force in Sinai. I did not propose this, nor has such a proposal been published. I expressed my opinion concerning a mixed force to ensure demilitarization, which must include Israeli soldiers and in which, possibly, Egyptian soldiers could also be included. I touched on such a possibility, but I must stress that no view on this subject has yet been crystallized in the Cabinet. I am convinced that the presence of Israeli soldiers guarding the demilitarization is most essential in order to ensure it.

In addition to these clarifications, and in order to complete the picture, I will mention some of the things which I said to the London Times correspondent, which were also published in his report:

(1) Jerusalem shall remain unified and part of Israel.

(2) Israel will not come down from the Golan Heights, which dominate the Hula Valley.

(3) The Jordan River must not be open for Arab troops to cross.

(4) 1 said I was opposed to an independent Palestinian State on the West Bank.

(5) Secure and recognized frontiers, to be determined by negotiations, are necessary to prevent another war. International guarantees cannot replace such borders.

(6) Israel is prepared to negotiate with the Arabs on all issues, but will not be dictated to.


Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs