JERUSALEM (Oct. 23)
Premier Golda Meir’s government came under sharp attack last night for accepting the U.S. Soviet sponsored cease-fire and for being caught unprepared when Egypt and Syria launched their surprise attack Oct. 6.
Likud issued a statement assailing the cease fire which, it alleged, contains the seeds of a future war, and also denounced the “very serious failure” of the government to take deterrent measures against enemy concentrations reported by intelligence between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the day the war began.
While Likud avoided taking issue with the Cabinet’s decision not to order a preemptive strike against Egypt and Syria before Oct. 6, it attacked the government for not calling up the reserves and preparing a proper defense. “Although the government had reliable confirmation of enemy concentrations in the north and south, it did not mobilize the country’s forces nor transfer them in due time to the cease-fire lines in order to deter the enemy from its planned aggression or in order to smash it in the formative stages.” the Liked statement said.
The Likud statement was issued before it became apparent that the cease-fire had broken down and fighting was resumed on the Egyptian front. It was regarded here, nevertheless, as the harbinger of a no-holds barred political struggle which was bound to break out as soon as hostilities with the Arabs abated. Menachem Beigin, the opposition leader, had promised earlier that he would defer “serious questions” for the government until the war was over. Announcement of the cease-fire apparently convinced him that the time was ripe for apolitical assault on Mrs. Meir’s government. It is not known whether Beigin will pull in his horns now that fighting has resumed.
LIKUD’S FUTURE APPEARS STRONG
Political observers believe, nevertheless, that Likud will emerge from this situation much stronger than before. The enormous popularity of its founder and leading personality. Gen. Arik Sharon, has been enhanced by news of his reportedly daring battle exploits on the southern front. Sharon had retired from the army to go into politics but was recalled, as were other retired military leaders, when the war broke out.
No details of his battle exploits have been published but the legend weavers are hard at work and photographs of him in the Sinai desert at the head of his men have been published in newspapers, making him an object of national adulation.
The Labor Alignment for its part is giving considerable publicity to the battle achievements of former Chief of Staff Gen. Haim Barlev, who retired two years ago to become Minister of Commerce but is now supreme commander of the southern front. Though Barlev is acknowledged to be a brilliant military leader, he lacks the charisma of Sharon, according to political observers. (By David Landau.)