JERUSALEM (Dec. 2)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin today publicly criticized the United States for falling to block Sunday night’s Security Council resolution linking the Palestinian issue with extension of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) mandate on the Golan Heights. But he categorically rejected Likud demands, in the course of a vociferous seven-hour Knesset debate, that Israel refuse to cooperate with UNDOF because of the linkage.
The Knesset voted 57-31 late tonight to endorse the Premier’s statement. A Likud no-confidence motion was defeated by the same margin. The fact that Likud polled only 31 of its 39 votes in both cases indicated some defection within the opposition ranks.
Rabin reiterated his government’s decision not to participate in or cooperate in any way with the Security Council’s Middle East debate scheduled to begin Jan. 12 with the probable participation of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He expressed, in muted terms, his government’s feeling of severe letdown over U.S. acquiescence to Soviet-Syrian demands to inject the Palestinian issue into the procedural matter of renewing the UNDOF mandate for another six months.
Rabin warned that the Soviet-Syrian-PLO design had repercussions not only for Israel but was aimed against basic American interests in the Middle East, against Egypt and other moderate Arab elements. The Premier also rejected, however, suggestions by dove-ish members of his own Labor Alignment that Israel modify its policy with regard to the PLO by declaring its willingness to negotiate with any Palestinian group that recognizes Israel’s existence as a sovereign state and renounces terrorism.
TRUE CORE OF CONFLICT
Rabin said that the Soviet-Syrian-PLO aim was to put the Palestinian question at the center of the Middle East conflict whereas the true core of the conflict was continued Arab refusal to come to terms with Israel’s existence. If that could be changed, the whole conflict–including the Palestine question–could be solved, Rabin said.
He described Israel’s view of a solution–a “Palestinian-Jordanian state”–grounded on a pence settlement between Israel and Jordan as a “feasible, just and realistic” one. “There is no contradiction between Israel’s existence within defensible borders and expressions of Palestinian identity in an independent, neighboring Palestinian-Jordanian state,” the Premier said. “But Israel is firmly opposed to the establishment of a new, irredentist Palestinian state,” he declared. “Any attempt to link peace progress to negotiations with the PLO is doomed to failure.”
Likud leader Menachem Beigin accused Rabin of reneging on recent pledges to reject any Security Council resolution that linked the UNDOF mandate with the Palestinian issue. “Either do not make such pledges or stick to them,” Beigin demanded. He outlined his own “alternative national program” and demanded that the government hold national elections. When Beigin urged the government to renounce cooperation with UNDOF, Rabin asked, “Do you mean we should ask them to leave?” Beigin’s reply to that was unclear.
MOUNTING PRESSURE FOR MODERATE STAND
Although the government easily overcame Likud’s censure motion, Rabin is faced with mounting pressure within his own Labor Alignment to take a more moderate stand on the issue of contacts with the Palestinians. This is known as the Yariv-Shemtov formula–proposals by former Communications Minister Aharon Yariv, a Labor Party stalwart, and Health Minister Victor Shemtov, of Mapam.
While these and other doves were somewhat hesitant in expressing their views on the Knesset floor today, similar views have been voiced publicly in recent weeks by several other leading Laborites, including Abba Eban, Yitzhak Navon and Yitzhak Ben Aharon.
Political observers believe a groundswell of sentiment toward moderation on the Palestinian issue is building within the Labor Party and some predict that Foreign Minister Yigal Allon will embrace the dove-ish view when the Cabinet debates the matter. Rabin is said by sources close to him to be determined to avoid a Cabinet debate along those lines. The Premier is convinced that the timing is inept and that any change of Israel’s policy on the Palestinians would be viewed as a weakening of its determination, the sources said.