Mapam to Stay in Government to Preserve Unity
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Mapam to Stay in Government to Preserve Unity

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Despite reports of mounting tension behind the scenes between the Mapam Party and her partners in the Israeli Labor Alignment, the leftist party has no intention of withdrawing. Deputy Health Minister and Mapam leader Abdul Aziz Zuabi told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Conceding that there was pressure within the party to leave the government over the devaluation and the approach to recent labor troubles. Zuabi emphasized that the main issues in Israel were peace and security and that unity should be preserved to deal with those problems. He said that Israel should open a dialogue with Palestinian Arab leaders as well as with King Hussein of Jordan to spur peace. Zuabi is the first Israeli Arab to achieve a Cabinet-level post. Interviewed over breakfast when he stopped overnight in New York after speaking to the Hadassah annual national convention in Cleveland. Zuabi wanted to talk about peace–and security–for Israel.

“I tell the Arabs things they don’t want to hear; I tell the Jews the same things and they don’t want to hear them either: a peace that is just for only one side is not a real peace,” he said. Noticing that the interviewer’s hand was on her coffee cup rather than on her pen. Zuabi urged, “Write that–tell them I said that.” Zuabi said that if Mapam left the Alignment and the government over its opposition to the recent devaluation (“It hurt the workers; and the rich who have their money in foreign currencies profited”) and to the Cabinet’s approach to the doctors strike and other labor problems. (“Time proved Mapam Health Minister Victor Shemtov’s approach was right all along”) the door would be open to Gahal. “A government without Gahal is the only government that might have the opportunity to make peace.” Zuabi said. A Gahal decision to join the government would decrease the chances for peace, he added. Zuabi noted that Gahal, the right wing party, walked out of the government over the decision to accept the Rogers cease fire in August, 1970. Gahal votes in the Cabinet, he said, would “be more pull for expansion–voices for territory rather than peace.”


Despite the desire to stay in the government because of the foreign policy problems. Mapam ministers still endorse the abide-by-Cabinet-decisions-or-resign ethic that has resulted in splits in Israeli governments over relatively insignificant issues in the past. Zuabi said. He said that the refusal of Shemtov to sign a back-to-work order ending the doctors’ strike several weeks ago did not represent a deviation from the overriding rule. He noted that the law did not direct the Health Minister specifically to sign the order, so that he was not bound to resign over his feeling that the order was premature. A labor or economic policy disagreement is no reason to leave the government “if we can be active and effective on the main issues of peace and security. Zuabi stressed. Would instituting “a permanent regime” in the administered territories, as suggested by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, be a step towards peace? “I haven’t seen a copy of Dayan’s remarks in their original Hebrew,” he stated cautiously. But if he meant a formal political institution or an Israeli policy statement. Zuabi continued, the Minister was taking the wrong approach.

“We don’t need a change in our political approach,” Zuabi said. “We do it without speeches.” On Aug. 21, Dayan delivered an address on radio to explain that his statement two days earlier, which was widely interpreted as calling for permanent Israeli government of administered territories, was not a proposal for Israel’s annexation of those areas. He explained that what be meant was that he opposed a temporary administration which delays much needed programs or abstains from them altogether. Zuabi went on to describe improvements in West Bank health services, illustrating the unofficial but actual stabilization of government services. A West Bank Arab receives the same quality medical care in an Israeli hospital as an Israeli, he said, and new equipment and beds are being added to Arab hospitals in the administered territories. Strengthened economic channels, Zuabi added, were additional “encouraging signs–real ones, not political ones.” Palestinian Arab leaders from Jordan who recently visited him. Zuabi told the JTA, “wanted to come back to the West Bank. We talked about the weather and went for a swim in the Kinneret. “They have no feelings of animosity towards Israel–and they have no more hope of a military solution. They just want to talk and live.” Zuabi added: “I want very much to make peace between my people and my country.”

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