JERUSALEM (Mar. 27)
Israel Galili, Minister Without Portfolio, told a special session of the Knesset today that the Gaza Strip would never be separated from Israel, He made the statement in a reply for the government to three urgent motions presented by Gahal, the Free Center and the State List protesting Mapam’s “incitement” against settlement in the Raffah area of Gaza.
Galili declared that even if peace is attained with the Arab states, the status of the Gaza Strip will not be open to question. The issue arose when Bedouins in the Raffah area were evicted from a tract of land taken over by the Army for eventual Israeli settlement. Galili said that the Bedouins had been compensated for the land.
He also said that Chief of Staff David Elazar had given the Cabinet the results of a military investigation into the charge of malpractice in the expropriation of the Bedouin land. Without indicating what those results were, Galili said any persons found guilty of any malpractice would get “full punishment.”
NOT PRE-CONDITION FOR PEACE TALKS
The Knesset removed the motions from the agenda by a vote of 43-28. There were 11 abstentions, including all members of the National Religious faction. Also abstaining was Mordechai Surkiss of the Labor Alignment who defied party discipline to demonstrate his support of the Greater Israel Movement which opposes return of any territory. The NRP and Surkiss abstained because they felt that the government had not taken a tough enough stand in support of settlement in the administered areas.
Galili said that while Israel had no intention of handing the Gaza Strip back to the Arabs “who have been defeated in battle three times,” this stance did not mean the laying down of pre-conditions for peace talks with the Arabs. He insisted that Israeli settlement in the area did not contradict Israel’s declared policy that all outstanding issues with the Arabs were negotiable.
But, he added, Israel has stressed repeatedly that it would not return to the pre-Six-Day War borders. Sponsors of the three motions charged that Mapam had undermined the security of Israel by opposing settlement in areas which are “an integral part of Greater Israel.”