JERUSALEM (Aug. 2)
Premier Golda Meir will deliver a major political statement to the Knesset next Tuesday afternoon it was announced here today by Cabinet secretary Michael Arnon. He did not specify the subject of Mrs. Meir’s address but it is considered certain that she will explain her government’s decision to accept the latest United States peace initiative for the Middle East. A motion approving government acceptance of the American proposals was adopted by the Cabinet Friday following a week of stormy debate which brought Israel’s national unity coalition government closer to collapse than at any time since it was formed on the eve of the June, 1967 war. A special cabinet committee headed by Mrs. Meir went to work last night to draft Israel’s official reply to the U.S. proposals. It did not meet today however and further sessions were being held in abeyance pending the outcome of the Cabinet crisis. The Gahal faction (Herut-Liberal alignment) is to vote tomorrow on whether or not to remain in the government in view of the acceptance of the American plan which Gahal has vehemently opposed. All six Gahal ministers attended today’s cabinet meeting but no date was set for the next meeting, apparently owing to uncertainty over the coalition’s future.
The motion approved by the cabinet Friday–and denounced by Herut leader Menachem Beigin–provided that Israel accept the 90-day cease-fire in the Suez Canal zone, a key element of the proposals offered June 19 by Secretary of State William P. Rogers in a last ditch effort to persuade Israel and the Arab states to “stop shooting and start talking.” The motion also provides that Israel will name “authorized delegates” to meet with United Nations peace envoy Gunnar V. Jarring who, under the Rogers’ plan, will attempt to get negotiations under way between Israel and the Arab states. Sources close to Mrs. Meir’s cabinet committee said today that no significance should be attached to the fact that it did not complete the job of drafting an official reply to the U.S. at its first session, held last night in the Prime Minister’s office. They said it was never assumed that the drafting committee would accomplish that at its initial meeting. The sources stressed that “no attempt will be made to draft Israel’s reply in such a way as to disguise Israel’s acceptance of the American peace initiatives or make it less clear.” The special cabinet committee consists of. in addition to Mrs. Meir. Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, Foreign Minister Abba Eban, Defense Minister Moshe Dayan. Minister of Justice Yaacov Shimshon Shapiro. Minister of Immigrant Absorption Nathan Peled. Minister of Tourism Moshe Kol, Minister of Religious Affairs Zerach Warhaftig and Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili.
The six minister of Gahal were invited after the vote Friday to participate in the drafting committee. But the offer was turned down. Earlier, the Gahal Knesset faction voted 14-9 to quit the cabinet if the U.S. plan were accepted. Mr. Beigin insisted that approval of the U.S. plan would be a “catastrophe” for Israel. Israel’s acceptance of the Rogers’ plan despite serious misgivings and the likelihood that it will wreck Mrs. Meir’s coalition, has been attributed to firm assurances received here from President Richard M. Nixon that the 90-day cease-fire will give no military advantage to Egypt and its Soviet allies. President Nixon also reportedly allayed Israel’s fears that the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 242 of Nov. 22, 1967, the basis of the Rogers peace plan, would be interpreted to Israel’s disadvantage once negotiations got under way. The newspaper Maariv reported today that Israel received a satisfactory reply from Washington on the question of how the U.S. government would react if the Soviet Union were to try to get the Security Council to re-interpret Resolution 242 in terms going beyond those implied in President Nixon’s message to Premier Meir. The U.S. replied that it would “see to it” that no change was made in interpretation of the resolution. Maariv said.