JERUSALEM (Dec. 10)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin warned last night that he might resign if the Labor Party falls to support him on the compromise reached with the Gush Emunim settlers near Sebastia. He sounded this warning during a stormy meeting of the Knesset’s Labor Alignment faction during which Foreign Minister Yigal Allon attacked Defense Minister Shimon Peres for having failed to order the army to stop the settlers from entering Samaria. Speculation was also rife today that the Labor Alignment may not present Rabin as its candidate in the next elections and that Allon may be entered as its candidate.
Allon, who is known for his moderate views on the Palestinian issue and for his opposition to the compromise reached with the settlers in which 30 families were given permission to remain in the Samaria district under army protection, told the faction meeting: “I have sinned too much, perhaps, by keeping silent too long. I am not going to keep silent any longer. I will have my say.”
BOYCOTT NOT A MATTER OF PRINCIPLE
Earlier in the day Allon had his say in a television interview in which he dealt with the issue of Israel’s attitude toward attending the Security Council debate on the Middle East next month to which the Palestine Liberation Organization has been invited to attend. “I don’t see our attendance or non-attendance at this or that meeting as a matter of principle on which the government or country stands or falls,” he said. While “at this moment” the decision to boycott the Jan. 12 meeting was correct, Allon stated, “there are many days between now and January 12 and circumstances may change.”
He said Israeli non-attendance at Council sessions taking action Israel opposes “should not be automatic.” He said such boycotts were “one part of our political struggle and we have to choose our moves in accordance with our political strategy.” Allon suggested that Israel’s flexibility on the issue was indicated by the fact that Israel had in fact “attended a long list of international organizations at which PLO representatives have also attended.”
Allon reiterated Israel’s position that a solution to the problem of the Palestinians should be sought through talks with King Hussein of Jordan. He added he had long proposed greater autonomy for the Palestinians in the West Bank, reiterated his belief that the best solution would be some form of federation between Israel and a West Bank-Jordanian Palestinian state, and ruled out any proposal for a third state because it might be taken over by the PLO which “has inscribed on its banner the destruction of Israel.”
In an interview with the Army Radio program Rabin had hinted yesterday that Israel may not boycott the Security Council indefinitely despite the Council’s invitation to the PLO to participate and observed that the Cabinet decision to boycott the Council deliberations on the Mideast because of the PLO’s presence applied only to the meeting scheduled for Jan. 12.
CLASH IS ONLY A MATTER OF TIME
The differences between Rabin and Allon on the Samaria compromise issue did not take the form of an open clash last nigh between the two leaders. Observers noted that while an open clash was averted it is only a matter of time before their differences erupt as a public confrontation. Rabin, in addressing the faction meeting, termed as “very serious” the confrontation with the Gush Emunim in its desire to “dictate policy to the government.” He added, however, that the government did not bind itself to any promises to the would-be settlers and retained full freedom of action.
Political observers noted that despite the speculation that the Alignment may not have Rabin as its next candidate the Premier enjoyed wide popularity with the public, especially after he succeeded in preventing a violent clash between the army and the illegal settlers.
Peres, in his statement to the faction meeting, asked whether “all those who wished to be heroes” had in the past favored sending in police and troops to curb illegal strikes by dock workers and airline employees when they were paralyzing vital services.
Some observers noted that the criticism of Rabin’s policies regarding both the settlers and the Palestinians is unique in that his critics–which include leading members of his own party and the Cabinet and Knesset–dare to speak out in ways that were not used against previous Premiers. Meanwhile, Alignment Knesseters began today to initiate meetings in Labor Party centers and bureaus to discuss the Cabinet’s policy toward new settlements in the administered territories.