Mrs. Meir’s Report Accepted by 51-28 Vote; Beigin Leads Opposition in Debate
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Mrs. Meir’s Report Accepted by 51-28 Vote; Beigin Leads Opposition in Debate

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The Knesset voted 51-28 last night to accept Premier Golda Meir’s political report in which she said, among other things, that Israel is prepared to return to the Jarring peace talks “if the proper conditions” were created. The vote reflected the split between the government and the opposition factions. Mrs. Meir’s coalition was supported by two Orthodox splinter groups, the Agudat Israel and Poalel Agudat Israel, while the State List, founded by former Prime Minister Ben Gurion, abstained. But Mrs. Meir’s speech yesterday provided no solid issue for the opposition to latch on to. She did not say what would constitute “proper conditions” for reactivating the Jarring talks though she made it plain that such conditions do not yet exist as far as her government is concerned. She did not repeat Israel’s demand for removal of all Soviet missiles and missile sites from the Suez truce zone. But she went into some detail on the extent of Egyptian truce violations and the number of missiles deployed.

The five hour debate that followed, and Mrs. Meir’s summation afterwards, only served to emphasize the deep differences between the government and Gahal, Israel’s second largest party, on the fundamental issue of whether Israel should give up any of the occupied Arab territories as part of a peace settlement. Herut leader Menachem Beigin, who led the opposition, called for annexation of the territories. Mrs. Meir said it was impossible to achieve peace without giving up some territory. She recalled that it was due to the courage to say yes to the partition plan in 1948 that Israel was created. Mr. Beigin indicated by his remarks that he believed that the major obstacle to annexation was the demographic imbalance it would create. He claimed that annexation would only add about 800,000 Arabs to Israel’s population, leaving a Jewish majority of 66 percent. He was disputed by the Labor Party’s Arab affairs expert, Eliahu Sasson, who said that annexation would soon leave the Jews a minority in their own country because of the higher Arab birth rate. Moshe Sneh of Maki, the anti-Moscow Communist faction, welcomed as “realistic” Mrs. Meir’s assertion that Israel will have to part with some of the territories in the interests of peace.

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