JERUSALEM (Jan. 27)
The Cabinet today issued a lengthy statement in which Premier Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and the entire Cabinet expressed their confidence in Chief of Staff David Elazar in the wake of attacks by Gen. Ariel (Arik) Sharon. The Likud Knesseter. who was relieved of his divisional command by Elazar last week, said in weekend newspaper interviews that the full responsibility for the difficulties Israel encountered during the Yom Kippur War rested squarely on Elazar’s shoulders. He demanded that Elazar be relieved of his command. Sharon’s statements were raised at the Cabinet by Health Minister Victor Shemtov and Tourism Minister Moshe Kol. In the Cabinet statement, drafted by Minister-Without-Portfolio Israel Galili, Mrs. Meir was quoted: “We all esteem Elazar’s actions before and during the war. The whole Cabinet had confidence in Elazar, the Chief of Staff.” She then strongly denounced statements attributed to Sharon that there exists “an ideology of non-discipline which is alien to Zahal.” She also warned against revelation of military secrets in this connection and noted that a committee was currently investigating all charges and accusations.
Sharon issued a series of charges against the army high command claiming that Elazar did not acquaint himself with the conditions of the military reality in the Sinai, did not understand the intentions of the Egyptians, that initiative on the part of the Israeli army and insight into the tactics and strategy of the Egyptian army was replaced by a reliance on military hardware. Making these charges in interviews in Maariv and Yediot Aharonot, Sharon claimed that since Yitzhak Rabin left the army the Israel Defense Force “ceased to be a brilliant army.” He stated that Elazar’s shortsightedness and reliance on the quantity of arms rather than the quality of military tactics and strategy was a serious mistake “because quantitatively we shall never be able to surpass our enemies.”
The Likud leader, who was in command of a division that crossed the Suez, expressed warm words and high esteem for Dayan, saying that he should serve in the next Cabinet. “He is a brave man and an original thinker and is not to be blamed for the mistakes in the Yom Kippur War,” Sharon said of Dayan. The Defense Minister, he continued, “is ten times superior to any other Labor Alignment candidate for the post of Defense Minister.” Dayan, however, reaffirmed his full support of the army and its command: “To my mind they are first call commanders. The Israel Defense Force is a good army and it has good commanders. I knew all the past chiefs of staff and the future candidates and I would not make one transfer.”