JERUSALEM (Feb. 2)
Premier Yitzhak Rabin was sharply criticized in leading newspapers here today for remarks made by a “senior source” in his party currently visiting the United States. The remarks were critical of Israel’s weapons purchase list drawn up by the Defense Ministry and reflected poorly on Defense Minister Shimon Peres.
The latter has declined to comment publicly while the Premier is abroad. Acting Premier Yigal Allon said on a television interview last night that the incident would not be discussed before Rabin returns to Israel this Thursday.
The independent daily Haaretz said the Premier was not adverse to “stinging” his Defense Minister who is regarded by many as a potential rival. “But never before has he directed destructive criticism against the Defense Minister in public and while abroad,” the paper said. Haaretz expressed concern over the harm done to Israel’s image and credibility in the U.S. by the criticism of the arms shopping list.
Davar, organ of the Histadrut, said of the remarks that “both their timing and the place chosen to say them arouse, to say the least, great astonishment.” The paper said the spectacle of Israel’s leadership speaking with two voices is the most damaging aspect of the incident.
Israeli correspondents in the U.S. who have been covering Rabin’s tour agreed that the remarks were damaging but excused the Premier on grounds that he was exhausted and tense. The correspondents charged that the officials responsible for Rabin’s grueling schedule in the U.S. were inconsiderate. “He should have been given time to rest,” one prominent journalist wrote today.