Dayan Absent from Cabinet Meeting; Tekoah to Remain Until Guidelines Set; Cabinet in Crisis
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Dayan Absent from Cabinet Meeting; Tekoah to Remain Until Guidelines Set; Cabinet in Crisis

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Defense Minister Moshe Dayan was absent from today’s Cabinet meeting, increasing speculation that he will resign in protest over the government’s handling of alleged cease-fire violations by Egypt. The Cabinet failed again to agree on guidelines for UN Ambassador Yosef Tekoah in the current peace talks under United Nations special envoy Gunnar V. Jarring. The talks have been stalled by the absence of Mr. Tekoah who is alternate to Foreign Minister Abba Eban at the talks. It was uncertain today when Ambassador Tekoah would return to New York. The next Cabinet meeting is scheduled for Sunday. It was considered very likely that he will remain in Jerusalem to attend that session. The government is seriously split over whether Israel should continue the talks and its observance of the cease-fire in view of continuing truce violations by Egypt. Yesterday, Israel lodged its eighth complaint with the UN Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) since the cease-fire went into effect Aug. 7. Today, the Knesset foreign affairs and security committee passed a resolution declaring that “Israel cannot tolerate the endangering of its security under cover of a cease-fire agreement.” It expressed “concern and displeasure at the fact that the United States government did not act immediately, after receiving conclusive proof from Israel, to see that the cease-fire should be observed and further violations prevented.”


(In New York, a spokesman for the United Nations said Israel’s latest complaint has been received by the Secretary General’s office. Secretary General U Thant is today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, addressing a meeting of the Organization of African Unity. One diplomatic source here noted that the standstill on the peace-talks is being more scrupulously observed in the UN than in the Middle East. Dr. Jarring met late yesterday afternoon with the Egyptian ambassador Mohammed Hassan El-Zayyat and was not scheduled to meet with anyone today. A UN source said that despite a reportedly growing irritation on the part of Dr. Jarring over the peace-talks standstill due to Israel’s absence from the talks, he nevertheless continued to feel that they were not in danger of falling apart.)

A growing number of Cabinet ministers, led by Gen. Dayan, want to call off the truce unless swift action is taken to rectify the alleged Egyptian violations. A majority of the Cabinet was reported to still be opposed to such drastic action. One minister who asked not to be identified said the issue was not whether to accept Gen. Dayan’s views but a matter of first attempting every political means in contacts with the U.S. “before we consider ways and means of our own to foil the consolidation of Egypt’s hold over the Suez Canal.” Unconfirmed but persistent reports say that Gen. Dayan has threatened to resign in a week unless the government gives him a “green light” to deal with Egyptian truce violations as he sees fit. Gen. Dayan has warned that Israel’s military situation was deteriorating as a result of new missile batteries moved near the Suez Canal since the cease-fire went into effect. The Defense Minister is reportedly pressing for a frank acknowledgement by the U.S. that truce violations have taken place. Israeli officials say Washington has already advised Israel privately that it no longer regards Israeli evidence of truce violations as inconclusive. But the U.S. has refrained from stating this publicly or protesting to Egypt or its backer, the Soviet Union. A public acknowledgment would force Washington to take measures to correct the situation in the cease-fire zone or face the embarrassment of having its assurances to Israel appear worthless.


Addressing Histadrut trade unionists in Tel Aviv yesterday, Premier Meir acknowledged that her government was in “strenuous dispute” with the U.S. over the Egyptian violations. “The U.S. government has guaranteed that neither side would improve its military position as a result of the cease-fire. But only a few hours had passed when the Egyptians began violating it,” Mrs. Meir said. “We cannot give in on this score. We cannot be weaker should the war along the Suez Canal resume.” Mrs. Meir’s remarks indicated that she leaned closer to the views of Gen. Dayan than some of her Cabinet colleagues, notably Foreign Minister Abba Eban who reportedly wants Israel not to make a major issue of the truce violations so that peace talks can proceed. (Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Gen. Yitzhak Rabin, reportedly warned Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco yesterday that the Jarring talks may collapse unless the U.S. stops Egypt from advancing its missile sites during the cease-fire.) Premier Meir’s tactic appears to be to keep alive the danger of Israel’s withdrawal from the truce talks and abrogation of the cease-fire while maintaining an urgent dialogue with the U.S. She sent another note to President Nixon this week, reportedly emphasizing the gravity of the situation.

Gen. Dayan has taken the stand that “If the U.S. does not keep her promises with regard to the standstill cease-fire, how can we rely on her keeping her promises in other respects?” Should Gen. Dayan resign, it would appear impossible to avoid a total collapse of Mrs. Meir’s already shrunken political coalition. The Gahal faction, Israel’s second largest political party, quit the Cabinet last month in protest against the government’s acceptance of the cease-fire. Gahal leader Menachem Beigin continued to denounce the truce last night at a public rally marking the creation of a “Public Council Against Withdrawal.” The group opposes the return of any of the Arab territories occupied by Israel in the June, 1967 war. Between 3000-4000 persons turned up for the rally, a smaller number than had been expected. Mr. Beigin, using a large three dimensional map on the speakers’ platform, claimed that evacuation of the territories would put most of Israel’s cities and towns “under the guns of the terrorists.” Mr. Beigin referred to Judaea and Samaria, the West Bank seized from Jordan in 1967, as “part of the heart and soul of the Jewish nation.” Other speakers included representatives of five political factions, among them members of the Labor Alignment and the religious bloc.

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