TEL AVIV (Nov. 24)
A report in the current issue of Time magazine that Defense Minister Moshe Dayan resigned in anger, after walking out on a Cabinet meeting where his policies in the occupied territories came under fire, was denied by a Defense Ministry spokesman today. The spokesman said that if the Time story was quoted accurately by the Israeli press, “it was incorrect from beginning to end.” According to Time, Gen. Dayan withdrew his resignation only after the personal intervention of Premier Golda Meir.
Time claimed that the situation was precipitated by sharp attacks on Gen. Dayan’s policy of “neighborhood punishment” in the occupied territories. “Fearful of losing public support in the U.S. and Europe, many Israelis questioned the wisdom and morality of fighting terror with terror,” Time said. “Dayan’s opponents in the Israeli Cabinet seized on the issue to attack the Defense Minister. In a Cabinet meeting that lasted six hours, Foreign Minister Abba Eban and Minister without Portfolio Pinhas Sapir used the punishment issue as a springboard for an attack on Dayan’s entire policy.”
According to the magazine account, they scored his plans to settle Israelis in strategic areas, to link the West Bank economy with that of Israel and to impose Israeli law in the occupied territories. “Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, Dayan’s chief rival for eventual Premiership, joined in the attack on the Defense Minister’s economic integration policy, but fearing a vote on the issue, walked out of the meeting…Angrily refusing to retreat, Dayan also left the Cabinet meeting,” Time reported.
Time said he went to a Jerusalem hotel where he wrote out a statement of resignation. But before he could make it public, Premier Golda Meir sent aides to bring him to her office and “under her calm persuasion, Dayan cooled off and withdrew his resignation,” Time said.
According to the magazine, the Cabinet afterwards agreed on a formula to limit Gen. Dayan’s freedom of action. “In the future, the general must have clearance from the Cabinet or its security committee before he punishes a whole community for the actions of terrorists operating there,” Time said.
The Defense Ministry spokesman said today that Gen. Dayan “did not leave a Cabinet meeting while in session, he did not send a letter of resignation to the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister certainly did not try to persuade him personally or through one of her aides to rescind a resignation. Neither did the Cabinet make any decisions restricting the authority of the Defense Minister.”