JERUSALEM (May. 7)
The Knesset voted 58-35 today to refer debate on Israeli-Syrian disengagement to its foreign affairs and security committee where the matter will be discussed behind closed doors. The vote came after a tense, emotion-charged session during which Likud leader Menachem Beigin alleged that the care-taker government was about to retreat from the Golan Heights and Deputy Premier Yigal Allon, speaking for the government, gave assurances that any Israeli plan would provide for the continued existence, security and development of all settlements on the Heights.
Allon, claiming that much of what the news media has published in recent days was incorrect, gave the Knesset six points which be said constituted basic government policy on disengagement. But he did not categorically deny Beigin’s charge that the map the government will give Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger to take to Damascus tomorrow is not the same map Defense Minister Moshe Dayan gave Kissinger in Washington a month ago, and, in fact, represents an Israeli retreat from its position that no territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day War would be surrendered to Syria in the interests of disengagement.
Allon told the Knesset he could not guarantee the success of the current round of talks. Syrian intransigence is well known the said. But even if the current efforts fail, there will be renewed efforts in the future and the Israeli people and the army should be aware of the government’s tireless efforts to achieve peace or, at the very least, a stable cease-fire.
He noted that there might be “tactical changes” in Israel’s negotiating position during the talks but he promised that these would be reported to the Knesset committees and pledged that no government action would be binding unless it was approved first by the full Knesset. Allon said that if the disengagement efforts fail, at least the U.S., the “constructive” Arab governments and the world would know that the responsibility rests with Syria.
DISENGAGEMENT POLICY OUTLINED
Allon said the government’s policy on disengagement was the following: There must be a signed agreement stabilizing the cease-fire and facilitating further peace efforts; the buffer zone and Israeli withdrawal must not adversely affect the army’s overall defensive strategy; the existence, security and development of all Golan Heights settlements will be guaranteed; disengagement must be constructed to thwart the dangerous designs of “various external elements”; disengagement must strengthen the constructive elements in the Arab world and weaken irresponsible elements: disengagement, achieved by the efforts of Kissinger, would foster mutual relations between the U.S. and Israel.
BEIGIN ASSAILS GOVERNMENT POLICY
Beigin charged that the government was retracting Dayan’s map and substituting a new one. “Who will take any Israel government statement seriously in the future?” he asked. The one consolation, he said, is that the Syrians themselves will not accept the new map. But according to Beigin, the pressure on Israel will continue. He said the danger of damaging relations with the U.S. would always be present but he was convinced this would not happen if Israel stood firm and told the U.S. government. Congress and the people, “For you this is diplomacy, for us a matter of life or death.” Turning to the Labor benches on the Knesset floor, Beigin appealed: “I beg you at this last moment, do not give the new map to Kissinger.”
While the Knesset debated, more than 100 demonstrators, including prominent Israeli writers and academicians, marched outside the Prime Minister’s Office to protest against what they termed the government’s territorial surrender. Author Moshe Shamir, Israel Eldad and Prof. Henry Zelig, announced that they would go on a hunger strike. (By David Landau)