JERUSALEM (Jul. 26)
Labor Party leader Shimon Peres lashed back at Premier Menachem Begin for the latter’s allegation that Labor Alignment MKs had “leaked” parts of his peace proposals to the press before they were presented to President Carter in Washington. Begin made the charge during a press conference at Ben Gurion Airport yesterday morning on his return from the U.S.
Peres, addressing his party’s Knesset faction yesterday, angrily rejected the accusation. He said the gist of Begin’s plan was leaked before Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan presented it to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Security Committee last week. It was printed in three newspapers before Dayan’s briefing and therefore must have come from government circles close to Begin, Peres said.
The incident, which marked the first public row between the Likud regime and the opposition is expected to have repercussions during Wednesday’s Knesset debate on Begin’s visit to Washington.
Meanwhile, sources close to Begin told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that they had learned in reliable quarters that two former Labor ministers on the Knesset committee met shortly after Dayan’s briefing with 7-8 non-members of the committee to discuss the Begin peace plan. The sources said that Begin’s warning that “we shall learn the lesson” from the leak meant that in the future the government would be more careful in furnishing information to the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs Committee.
They said the government would not necessarily withhold information from the panel but might delay divulging it. Peres noted that the Knesset’s constitution entitled the committee to full access to information relevant to foreign affairs and defense policy-making.