Cabinet Endorses Rabin Policies on Eve of Departure for Washington

The Cabinet gave its unanimous endorsement this morning to the policies of Premier Yitzhak Rabin as he prepared for his trip to Washington later this week for fateful talks with President Ford. In a statement released at 2:15 a.m. local time, after a marathon debate that began yesterday and continued well past midnight, the Cabinet made it clear that Israel stands fast on its position of last March toward a second-stage interim agreement with Egypt, and would re-examine its position only if “parallel changes were forthcoming in the Egyptian position.”

The statement indicated that Israel favored a resumption of the step-by-step approach of Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger as the most “realistic” method of advancing toward an interim settlement under present conditions, but also stated that Israel was prepared to reach peace agreements with all of its Arab neighbors “whether within the Geneva framework or outside it, whether through the means of peace treaties or through interim settlements.”

‘DOVES’ PLATFORM PUBLISHED

The Cabinet overwhelmingly rejected a proposal by “doveish” elements of Mapam and the Independent Liberal Party urging the government to draft an overall peace plan now–something Rabin has rejected in the past as unrealistic and uncalled for at this time. (See separate story) But the Mapam-ILP peace proposal was–in a rare move–published this morning alongside the official Cabinet statement. The four ministers who voted for it nevertheless cast their votes for the final draft of the Cabinet statement to make it unanimous. Herut leader Menachem Beigin of the Likud opposition, also expressed approval of the government’s position on the eve of Rabin’s departure for Washington, (See separate story)

The Cabinet statement said that Rabin would be guided in his presentation to the Ford Administration of Israel’s position on overall or interim peace settlements “by the Cabinet’s basic guidelines and by its decisions and statements as approved by the Knesset.” The formulation was in accord with Premier Rabin’s request that the Cabinet not tie his hands with detailed decisions before his talks in Washington.

ISRAEL NOT AWARE OF CHANGES BY EGYPT

The Premier said, and most of his ministers agreed, that the time for crucial decision-making by Israel would come after his return from the U.S. when he would have clear and authoritative information on what Egypt is prepared to offer in exchange for further Israeli offers. The Cabinet statement implied that Israel has not as yet been authoritatively informed of any meaningful changes in Egypt’s position and therefore has no reason to change its own position delineated last March.

The Cabinet statement said: “At this stage, because of the Arab positions on overall peace, the Israel government sees as the realistic method of advancing toward peace, the method of partial settlements with Egypt through the good offices of the United States. The government’s decision not to accept the terms proposed by Egypt in the March talks remains valid. The government will be in a position to re-examine its position if parallel changes are forthcoming in the Egyptian position. In contacts with the U.S. President, Secretary of State and Administration, Israel will seek to reach understanding and agreement on the furtherance of the political process toward peace if and when an interim agreement with Egypt is attained.”

The Cabinet also declared that “Israel desires negotiations for peace within defensible borders with each one of its neighbors. In his discussions with the U.S. President, when he puts forward the Israel position on peace…as well as on the interim settlement, the Premier will be guided by the Cabinet’s basic guidelines and by its decisions and statements as approved by the Knesset. During negotiations…the Cabinet will take detailed decisions, as is its right, with reference to each of the neighboring states.”

NEXT STORY