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Dayan Decides to Stick with Labor

Former Defense Minister Moshe Dayan reversed his decision not to run for the Knesset on the Labor Alignment ticket May 17. He said today that he decided to stick with Labor after all because he had a written commitment from leading members of the party to hold a national referendum before the government agreed to any peace settlement involving territorial concessions on the West Bank.

Premier Yitzhak Rabin was not among the leaders who made the pledge to Dayan. After a private meeting with the former defense chief, he wrote a letter to Dayan stating that he had no “objection in principle” to a referendum but that this was not the time for him, as Premier, to make any specific commitment.

Rabin asserted that he was totally committed to the Labor Alignment platform that holds Israel ready to negotiate territorial compromises in all sectors–including the West Bank–in exchange for a full peace settlement with its neighbors. He noted that the promise of a referendum was made by the government of former Premier Golda Meir and that his administration has not reversed it.

Dayan, who had demanded a reaffirmation of the pledge from Rabin, said today that the Premier had not been sufficiently forthcoming. But he said he was satisfied with the endorsement of a referendum by several Laborite ministers, Knesset members and potential Knesset members. He said they were a sufficiently large and representative group to ensure that the undertaking by the Meir government would be honored by every decision-making body of the Labor Party.

DECISION DISAPPOINTS SOME

Dayan’s decision to support Labor in the elections disappointed many opposition politicians, notably Gen. (Res.) Ariel Sharon who hoped to build a coalition around him of elements from all parties opposed to territorial concessions on the West Bank.

Dayan’s close friend, Mordechai Ben Porat, who quit the Labor Party recently over the West Bank issue, reacted bitterly today to Dayan’s decision. “It is a question of character,” he remarked, implying that Dayan was not suited by temperament to set up a new independent election list with all the difficulties involved less than two months before the elections.

Labor Party politicians had no comment but they were obviously relieved by Dayan’s return to the fold. Although his reputation was badly tarnished by the Yom Kippur War, Dayan still possesses a strong following in Israel and is very popular among many Jewish communities abroad.

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