Cabinet States Israel Will Continue to Respect Undof Presence but Will Not Cooperate in Security Cou

Israel said today that it will continue to respect the presence of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) on the Golan Heights but would not cooperate with the Security Council’s Middle East debate scheduled to begin next January 12.

The government’s position was stated in a communique issued late this afternoon following an extraordinary six-and-a-half-hour Cabinet session. It was convened to consider last night’s vote by the Security Council to extend the UNDOF mandate for six months while at the same time acquiescing to Syria’s demand for a debate on the Palestinian issue in which the Palestine Liberation Organization would be invited to participate. (See separate story for Security Council resolution.)

The communique said the government negated the linkage between the renewal of the UNDOF mandate and “foreign elements” incorporated into that decision. The Cabinet’s statement was, in effect, a reiteration of Israel’s position that the UNDOF mandate is an integral part of the 1974 Israeli-Syrian disengagement accord and is completely separate from any other matters including debate on the Palestinian issue.

The communique said Israel would continue to honor the existence of UNDOF on the basis of the 1974 separation of forces agreement which was still valid. It stressed that the latter agreement included the commitment to avoid terrorist actions across the disengagement lines and declared that Israel held Syria responsible for implementation of the agreement in all of its parts.

MIDEAST PEACE IN JEOPARDY

The communique served notice that Israel would take necessary security measures along its northern border and, in that context, the ministerial settlements committee was authorized to decide on the establishment of additional settlements on the Golan Heights.

Israel warned the Security Council that last night’s resolution which contained an implicit invitation to the PLO to participate in the January 12 debate could jeopardize peace efforts in the Middle East. Israel stated that it continues to base its policy on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, neither of which makes any reference to the Palestinian issue. The communique quoted the recent Knesset decision that Israel would not have any dealings whatsoever with the PLO and would not participate in the Geneva conference if the PLO was invited there. The Cabinet’s communique was approved unanimously.

It was learned, however, that differences of opinion were expressed by various ministers during the lengthy debate. Five doveish ministers–two from Mapam, two from the Independent Liberal Party and Labor’s Avraham Offer–are known to have suggested that Israel modify its position with regard to the Palestinians by stating its readiness to negotiate with any Palestinian group that recognized Israel’s sovereignty and renounced terrorism. A decision on that proposal was postponed.

At the same time, hawkish Cabinet ministers pressed for an intensive new settlement program on the Golan as Israel’s answer to the Security Council vote–and they appear to have won out. With only Mapam and Offer opposing, the Cabinet authorized its settlement committee to decide on new settlements on the Golan–and this in effect means the green light for four new settlements which have been awaiting formal approval.

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