JERUSALEM (Aug. 28)
David Ben-Gurion, who has been considered to be a dove in the past, apparently has veered to a position close to that of Defense Minister Moshe Dayan regarding the future of the territories captured during the Six-Day War. In the past, Ben-Gurion has advocated the return of all occupied territories, except Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, in the event of a lasting peace settlement.
However, in a recent story in Haaretz, close friends of Ben-Gurion revealed that the former Premier believed that a good deal more territory ought to be kept, and the settlement by Israelis should continue in the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas so long as there is no real peace in sight. He still believes, however, that desert areas could be traded for a lasting peace.
Ben-Gurion’s friends said that this change of opinion came about slowly and in stages, as he became more and more convinced that the Arab states were not interested in a peace agreement. Now he is said to side with Dayan against those who advocate the return of most of the West Bank. These views are believed to be particularly important at this time since the Labor Party is preparing for a fundamental debate on its policy towards the occupied areas in advance of the November, 1973 elections.
The first signs of Ben-Gurion’s new position came in the form of a letter from him to Herut Executive Chairman Ezer Weizman in which Ben-Gurion congratulated Weizman on an article he wrote for Haaretz. In the article Weizman rejected the demographical dangers which others have seen in Israel’s continued occupation of these areas. Haaretz published this letter after Weizman obtained the former Premier’s permission.