JERUSALEM (Jul. 10)
Former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan told the Knesset today that there must never be any surrender to terrorists holding hostages, regardless of age or condition of the hostages, and this must be a cardinal precept which the Knesset should determine once and for all. The alternative would mean “abandoning the lives of our children” to the terrorists, he said.
Dayan replied to criticism, implicit in the Horev Committee report, that he had not provided the Cabinet in Jerusalem with adequate information on which to base their decisions during that fateful day. Dayan insisted that the demands of the terrorists, and all of the variations thereof, were presented to the Cabinet. The difference between what Israel was prepared to agree to and what the terrorists were demanding was the key to the whole episode, he said.
According to Dayan, the Cabinet never agreed to accede to the terrorists’ demands. Their decision, which he said he opposed, was to agree to a simultaneous exchange of prisoners for hostages, but that is not what the Maalot terrorists were offering, Dayan said. The terrorists wanted safe passage for 20 prisoners to Damascus while the hostages remained in their hands, and that, basically, was their position throughout the negotiations, Dayan said.
He criticized the Horev Committee for omitting what he considered a vital assertion by him in its report, “I hope unintentionally,” he said. According to Dayan, he had told the Cabinet that the Maalot school building could be stormed, but stressed that he could not guarantee there would be no casualties among the hostages. That cautionary assertion does not appear in the report.
Dayan said that while he disagreed with the Cabinet’s decision to attempt negotiations with the terrorists, he would never have ordered the use of force without the full authorization of the Cabinet. Likud and other opposition speakers criticized instances of poor organization and other shortcomings disclosed in the report. There was no Knesset vote. (By David Landau)