JERUSALEM (Aug. 12)
A highly emotional attack on the United States peace initiative was made in the Knesset this morning by Menachem Beigin, former Gahal Minister-Without-Portfolio and now leader of the opposition. Speaking for almost an hour, Mr. Beigin charged the U.S. State Department with “deceit” and said the Israel government should urge American Jewry “to send a delegation to President Nixon and tell him ‘your advisors are playing an international chess game at the expense of our blood.’” He also called on American Jews to “go out in the streets and demonstrate” which, he said, they “failed to do during the second World War when our six million were being murdered.” Mr. Beigin, who led the Gahal faction’s defection from the government last week in protest against acceptance of the American plan, was incensed by the text of United Nations envoy Gunnar V. Jarring’s letter to Secretary General U Thant. The letter stated the basis and objectives of the peace negotiations to be held under his auspices but omitted Israel’s basic conditions for accepting them. This, according to Mr. Beigin, was “an international scandal,” “fraud” and “deceit.” He accused the U.S. of having deliberately misled Israel.
The Herut leader contended that the U.S. plan offered no prospects for peace even if its most optimistic expectations were fulfilled. On the contrary, “it can lead only to war.” Mr. Beigin argued, because “King Hussein has declared that the cease-fire ones not apply to the terrorists who consider it their duty to go on shooting at Israelis.” Mr. Beigin claimed that if the plan of Secretary of State William P. Rogers was fulfilled and the West Bank enclave plan of Deputy Premier Yigal Allon were accepted, “most of Israel’s population centers, including Tel Aviv, Ramat Gan, Petach Tikvah and Beersheba, would be in Pauge of the terrorists’ Katyusha rockets.” Statements similar to Mr. Beigin’s were delivered by two other Gahal ex-Ministers, Haim Landau and Joseph Sapir, the latter the leader of Gahal’s Liberal faction. But Mr. Beigin clearly emerged as the leader of the opposition and the politician whom Premier Meir will mainly have to contend with. His emotional appeal to American Jews to demonstrate in the streets was seen by some observers here as a trial balloon of sorts to test the influence he exerts on Jews in the U.S.