JERUSALEM (Jul. 20)
The peace plan which Premier Menachem Begin took to Washington elicited expressions of shock, astonishment and severe criticism from members of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee where it was presented this morning, according to well placed sources. The negative reaction crossed party lines. Not only the opposition Labor Alignment and DMC members but some members of Likud and its coalition partner, the National Religious Party, found the document “unsatisfactory,” the sources said. It was read in the English version by committee chairman Moshe Arness of Likud.
The plan as presented to the Knesset committee was apparently more comprehensive than that made public by Begin at his Washington press conference this afternoon. The plan, as it was reported to the Knesset committee, according to sources, includes on historic introduction and a legal introduction, one presumably claiming Israeli rights to territories on historical grounds and the other citing Israel’s security needs.
According to sources, one MK called the document “a primitive and naive” presentation by an “amateur.” Another said “it includes no plan and no peace.” But the criticism seemed to focus on Begin’s extreme hard line. While the plan agrees to significant withdrawals from the Sinai and certain concessions on the Golan Heights, it states flatly that Judaea and Samaria–the West Bank–and the Gaza Strip will not be handed over to “foreign rule.”
The document, as presented to the Knesset committee, refers only to full peace agreements and rejects the idea of interim agreements. It does not specifically mention the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Arab states as part of a peace agreement.
Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, who reportedly drafted parts of Begin’s plan, participated in the committee discussion. He argued that the plan should not be regarded as Israel’s final conditions for negotiations and agreement. Political sources here took the same line. They said the plan Begin presented to Carter was intended to be the basis for talks between the Premier and the President, that it expresses the government’s point of view and does not claim to represent the viewpoint of all parties in the country. The sources stressed that the plan is intended to be an opening step in continuing talks with the U.S. and later with the Arabs.