JERUSALEM (Oct. 2)
Finance Minister Simcha Ehrlich, speaking today for the government, said that Israel would defy U.S.-Soviet attempts to impose a settlement of the Middle East conflict. He said such an attempt was implicit in the U.S.-Soviet joint declaration.
Israel will not accept an imposed settlement, will not accept a Palestinian state and will not accept PLO representation at the Geneva talks, Ehrlich told newsmen after today’s Cabinet meeting. “There is hardly anything in the (U.S.-Soviet) communique that is not alarming,” he declared.
Ehrlich presided at today’s Cabinet session in the absence of Premier Menachem Begin who was hospitalized in Tel Aviv Friday for exhaustion. He said the Cabinet did not discuss the U.S.-Soviet statement today. The subject may have been discussed by the Ministerial Defense Committee, the proceedings of which are not publicized. Ehrlich said the joint communique was probably an outcome of the SALT talks and American efforts to improve relations with the Soviet Union “at the expense of Israel.”
(According to reports in the U.S., the statement was suggested to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance some time ago by the Soviet Ambassador in Washington, Anatoly F. Dobrynin. State Department spokesman Hodding Carter described it last night as “a general statement of guiding principles” for a Mideast solution as the U.S. and the Soviet Union see them.)
Ehrlich expressed hope that the joint communique would not become durable. He said Israel’s ability to face U.S.-Soviet pressure depended on “time and nerves” and to a large extent on unity among the people, notably the degree of support from American Jewry. He said Israel has made considerable concessions aimed at reconvening the Geneva conference but would not participate in it if the PLO is represented.
RABIN: NO POINT TO ISRAEL GOING TO GENEVA
Former Premier Yitzhak Rabin denounced the U.S.-Soviet statement and urged Israel to declare that on its basis there is no point to Israel participating in the Geneva conference. Rabin agreed that the statement “reflects for the first time the trend to impose a settlement.” He said the purpose set forth by the two superpowers “is no longer a just and durable peace as it was defined in Security Council Resolution 242 but a settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”
He noted that it mentioned Israeli withdrawals to its 1967 borders and the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people before referring to “termination of the state of war and establishment of normal peaceful relations.”
Rabin blamed the Likud government for ruining in three months a system of political understanding that was built over 10 years with great effort by the previous Labor governments. He said he would have used much harsher language toward the present regime if Begin had not been confined to the hospital. He said the U.S.-Soviet statement was “an unprecedented turning point in the relations between Israel and the U.S.”
LIKUD BLAMED FOR DEVELOPMENT
Former Foreign Minister Yigal Allon shared Rabin’s view that the Likud government was responsible for the crisis. Speaking at Ben Gurion Airport before leaving for Britain and the U.S. and Canada, Allon said the government’s foreign policy put Israel in the position of a stubborn nation that had to be softened. The American-Soviet statement “eliminated prospects for the Geneva conference and negotiations for peace.”
However, he said, the mistake was made by Begin when he first met President Carter last July and deliberately did not try to reach an understanding with him on substantive matters. “When the Gush Emunim dictates the government’s foreign policy and when the government subjugates internal matters to its moves in the international arena, there are difficulties,” he said. Allon was referring to Begin’s public support of Gush demands for massive Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank.
Former Defense Minister Shimon Peres, leader of the Labor Alignment, said today that the joint communique has completely isolated Israel in the international political arena. Speaking at a Labor Party meeting in Tel Aviv, Peres said the statement contradicted all “rules of the game” and was contrary to Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which did not call for Palestinian representation of Geneva, and “certainly did not call for the establishment of a Palestinian state.” The UN did not authorize the superpowers to change Security Council resolutions, Peres said.