TEL AVIV (Jan. 16)
The Labor Party, its top leadership seemingly hopelessly divided over the future status of the West Bank, was given notice by Mapam today that it has until the end of this month to preserve the Labor Alignment. Mapam has been insisting that the Labor Party amend its platform to specify a willingness to negotiate territorial concessions on the West Bank. It also wants what it calls “satisfactory answers” on domestic, social and economic issues.
Mapam Secretary General Meir Talmi proposed today that a decision whether or not to quit the Labor Alignment should be held in abeyance until the Mapam convention which opens Jan 30. The Mapam leadership agreed, although a majority of the rank and file favored splitting with Labor now.
ALLON OBJECTS TO WEST BANK REFERENDUM
Labor may be willing but unable to provide Mapam with a concrete position on territorial concessions by Jan. 30. If Friday’s meeting of Labor’s special committee for political affairs was any indication, the party may not even be able to offer the electorate a consensus on the crucial issue of Judaea-Samaria when it goes to the polls May 17. The meeting found Labor’s most influential policy-makers seriously split on the issue. Foreign Minister Yigal Allon said he favored territorial concessions, even in the absence of a final peace settlement and that he did not want the next Cabinet to be bound by a referendum on the West Bank.
Former Foreign Minister Abba Eban agreed in principle with Allon. Defense Minister Shimon Peres, former Premier Golda Meir and former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan were bitterly opposed. Premier Yitzhak Rabin who attended the meeting did not participate in the discussion except to say that he disagreed with Allon.
Rabin’s government and that of Mrs. Meir before it, pledged that no territorial concessions on the West Bank would be incorporated in a final peace treaty unless they were first ratified by a popular referendum. But Allon said this was not one of the “Ten Commandments” and that conditions have changed. “We are a democratic state and we have a cruel choice to make,” Allon said. “Had it been possible, it would be fine to have the larger Israel, but then Israel would lose its Jewish character and automatically become a bi-national state.” he said.
He rejected Peres’ proposal for a “functional compromise” in Judaea-Samaria in which the area would remain under Israel’s control while its population had their allegiance to Jordan. He called that suggestion impractical and a “South African conception.” He also rejected a confederation of the West Bank with Jordan because under such definitions the movement of populations would be permissible and “I do not wish to see an Arab National Fund acquire property in Tel Aviv.”
Dayan said there could be no territorial concessions without first going to the Israeli people. He said King Hussein of Jordan has rejected the Allon plan for the past ten years. “That we are ready for territorial concessions is no news, but I would like to know what kind of peace plan Hussein will accept,” Dayan said.
Eban said he favored another series of interim agreements with Egypt in Sinai and an interim agreement with Jordan that would include territorial concessions. “We should not bind the hands of the next government to reach an interim agreement with Jordan.” Eban said.
Meir interjected angrily: “We never left Hussein in a fog. He knew we were ready for talks and he presented his plan–a ten kilometer retreat from the Jordan plus East Jerusalem, plus dismantling the settlements in the ten kilometer strip. But we know he will never come to an agreement before (President Hafez) Assad (of Syria) or (President Anwar) Sadat (of Egypt) because he is not that much of a hero.” Meir said. She stressed that there was a clear promise to go to the nation when the time arrived to negotiate territorial concessions. “I plead with you not to change this undertaking.” Meir said. The discussion will be resumed Thursday.