Storm Continues over Criticism of Israel’s Weapons Purchase List

Many Likud MKs were reportedly having second thoughts today over a sharply worked motion of non-confidence in the government introduced in the Knesset yesterday by Haim Landau of Likud’s Herut faction. The MKs, among them Shmuel Tamir and others, fear that the motion, which has already been published in the local press, will further discomfit Premier Yitzhak Rabin on his current American visit.

The non-confidence motion stemmed from remarks attributed to a “senior source” in Rabin’s party in Washington that Israel’s weapons purchase list drawn up by the Defense Ministry for submission to the U.S. was inflated and dishonored the State. Landau’s motion charged that such remarks demonstrated that the Rabin government was torn by internal rifts and could not function properly. It termed the remark incalculably harmful to Israel’s interests.

Landau denied that he had “leaked” the contents of his motion to the press. He said that after the story was published he issued a statement confirming and correcting the leaked report. Landau asked for a Knesset debate on the matter next Monday by which time Rabin will have returned to Israel and will be able to reply to the motion.

Regardless of the outcome of the Likud challenge, Rabin is expected to face a far more serious storm from within his own party where some of his key colleagues have been angered and embarrassed by the remarks on the weapons shopping list.

Defense Minister Shimon Peres, the chief target of the criticism of the weapons purchase list, broke his silence on the matter today. Speaking on the Army Broadcasting Service, he said the entire matter would be discussed when Rabin returns from the U.S. Meanwhile, he said, whatever his Ministry did could stand on its merits against any criticism. He said he had no intention of resigning.

NEXT STORY