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Televised Press Conference with Prime Minister Golda Meir

(October 10, 1973)

In her televised press conference Prime Minister Meir announced that Israel had recaptured the Golan Heights, while the Egyptians were being held along the lines they established on the east bank of the Suez Canal.

Good evening, citizens of Israel.

Four days ago I had the task of informing you that Egypt and Syria had once again jointly attacked Israel.

I have but one prayer deep in my heart: may this be the last time.

Only four days have passed - but we have learnt by now that a day is not measured in terms of hours alone. During these four days we faced very difficult, very bitter hours - but at the same time we also had good and comforting hours. I need not tell you that, as far as a change has taken place - and there has been a change from the bitter to the comforting - it was due to the deeds of our sons.

It has already been said, and repeatedly said, by our commanders that we have no words as yet to talk about who they were that did these deeds, what deeds were done and what ability and devotion were shown. It is beyond our power to put this into words, but I am happy and joyful to tell you that today the Golan Heights are in our hands; the settlers are returning to their villages; the Syrian enemy is now back beyond the cease-fire lines and we are pushing him still further back.

There can be no comparison between the strength of the Syrian army four days ago, three days ago and, in the last few hours, even two days ago and what it is now.

In the south, too, there has been a radical change: our forces are now close to the Canal and here, too, we are pushing the enemy back.

At the same time, I have to tell every one of you this: the war is not yet over. I have no doubt that it will end with our victory; but the victory is not yet complete, and what this means is that the war has not ended.

I know that it is natural for everyone to ask when the war will end, how many days will it last? And yet we have experience of various wars, and the last big war - the Six-Day War.

I am not sure that this will be a war of six days, but I have no doubt that every one of us knows that the main thing is to conclude the war, and to conclude it with our victory. And this may take more than six days.

I want to stress one more point - and the question is not against whom we are fighting, but what is no less and perhaps more important to stress - against what we are fighting.

We have to know that for a period of six years and more, since the end of the Six-Day War, a great Power, one of the two strongest nations in the world, the Soviet Union, has been working to strengthen our enemies, incessantly supplying them with arms, arms of the most modern, most sophisticated kinds, and the bounds of these supplies, we could say, have been only the capacity of Egypt and Syria to absorb them.

It is painful and difficult for me to state the fact that we still have grounds for saying that this supply of arms is continuing to flow all the time, to Syria at least. What this means is that we are fighting against the Egyptian army and the Syrian army, but the rockets, the tanks, the planes - everything that is in the hands of the Syrian and Egyptian soldier - all this comes to him from the Soviet Union.

The Soviet Union, so strong and so mighty a Power, considered and apparently still considers it her task to pour this armament into the balance to the advantage of the Arabs and to the detriment of Israel. We must be aware of this and take it into account. At the same time, we have learnt one more thing from experience - namely, that it is the greatest possible luxury for Jews in general and for Israel in particular to despair. Let us not abandon ourselves to this luxury, for there is no reason to despair, although we may still be facing difficult hours.

As for the outcome, I have not the shadow of a doubt what it will be. Since we are sensible, we must see things as they are, and rejoice in this festive day, the eve of Succot, on which so great a change has taken place, a change which in some ways is radical as against the situation three or four days ago. We must realize that the war has not yet ended and be confident that when it does it will end in victory.

Q: I will ask several questions. In a communiqué broadcast today by the Jordanian national communications media there was word of mobilization of reserves there. In your opinion does this intimate that Jordan will enter the war?

A: That, of course, I do not know. I can say only one thing: an intelligent and sensible leader, who is concerned for his people and whose memory serves him well to me it seems that such a leader should act in the light of all these factors. All I can say is that we hope that this is what he will do, but of course such a thing is not in our hands. Once before he was requested not to enter a war, and I hope that he is sensible and responsible enough to remember this.

Q: How would you describe our position today, the fifth day of the war?

A: As I said before, the Golan Heights are in our hands, we are now pushing the enemy beyond the cease-fire lines, we want to chase them behind these lines, and the settlers are returning to their farms.

In the south, our forces - our armoured forces - have taken up positions very close to the Suez Canal, and here, too, we feel that we have gone over to the offensive at almost all points.

Q: Can it be stated at this stage more or less what our objectives are in this war that has been forced upon us?

A: I would like to stress another point - namely the tremendous amount of arms, tanks and other war material that has remained on our territory on the Golan Heights and a lot of it also in the south. Now, as to our objectives: we want peace.

We want to smite them, to force them back across the lines and beyond, until we can be certain that these are not lines they can regroup on for a new attack.

Q: I should like to ask you a question which is now also in the public mind - and that is the price of this war. And one more question: how long will it last?

A: The price - every son who falls, that is a terrible price. I have no doubt that as in the past so too this victory which is now assured us will have a price.

We always said, when we spoke about our neighbours during the past six years: we have no fear that we will not win in any kind of war, but for victory too one must pay; and for us - the price is high, and this time too - we will have to pay the highest and the dearest price.

How long the war will last - none of us knows - it is only natural that everyone should ask this question - but it is also natural that everyone should be able to answer it for himself: the time that is needed to achieve the goals I have just mentioned.

Q: Tonight the people of Israel celebrate the feast of Succot. What would you wish this people on this particular evening?

A: My wish is the customary one tonight: happy holidays. I dare say this in spite of everything, and the main reason for my daring to wish you 'happy holidays' in time of war, in the midst of battle, is that if this is our fate, that our neighbours still find it easier to make war than to make any effort for peace - then we are doubly blessed that such is our people, and such are its sons and their capability.

And on this evening, the eve of Succot, in the midst of war or in moments of tranquillity, since peace is still far away, I have but one prayer in my heart - that this may be the last war. I pray for this not only for ourselves but also for the sons of our neighbours and for their children's children: perhaps they will catch from us our habit of appreciating human life - the lives of all human beings. This is my prayer, and it is the prayer of our whole nation.

And here I would like to say again how heartwarming it is to see the Jewish people in the Diaspora - and, indeed, many who are not Jews as well - rising up at once, without having to be told a word in order to be with us in spirit. There are friends who have not abandoned us.


Source: Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs